Proposals are "an affront" to all EU food producers and retailers – ENGA
The draft report of the rapporteur of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety is completely unacceptable, says ENGA (the European Non-GMO Industry Association), given its removal of the already minimal nods to transparency for EU citizens in the European Commission’s proposal on new GM techniques ("New Genomic Techniques", "NGTs").
ENGA says, "The EP rapporteur’s draft report removes the only transparency requirement proposed by the European Commission for category 1 NGTs (about 94% of all New GMOs): the need to label seeds as NGTs. This means that the whole food production chain, starting with breeders and farmers, as well as food and feed processors, retailers and consumers, will be kept in the dark about New GMOs on the EU market.
"If the rapporteur has her way the only information provided to the public is that a New GMO of category 1 has received EU market authorisation: a database will list all NGTs that have gained approval. In terms of transparency this database is next to useless, given that it will simply state that a product has market authorisation, not that it is actually on the market. No information on its NGT status shall be provided for any product.
"The draft report also removes the ban of New GMOs in organic food, a core demand of the organic sector and of consumers.
"ENGA calls for EU parliamentarians to reject the proposal of the Committee’s rapporteur, J. Polfjärd, and to stand up for more, not less, transparency: full labelling and traceability for all NGTs, full transparency for all business operators and consumers, so that both the food sector and EU citizens can avoid GMOs if they so wish."
Heike Moldenhauer, Secretary General of ENGA, comments: “It’s hard to believe it possible, but this draft report is even worse for consumers’ transparency and for those in the food sector than the European Commission’s original proposal. Without freedom of choice for business operators and consumers it signals the end of the free market. Its proposals are an affront to all EU food producers and retailers, as well as consumers who don’t want use, sell or eat GMOs.”
Biodynamic farming association also rejects report
The Biodynamic Federation Demeter International, representing the biodynamic farming movement worldwide as part of the organic sector, published a statement saying it firmly opposes the direction taken by the European Parliament’s rapporteur in the draft report on new genomic techniques (NGTs): "The removal of the ban of category 1 NGTs in organic farming and the seed labelling provisions are our main topics of concern. We urge the European Parliament to reinstate both provisions back in the final report."
The Federation continued, "The report, published yesterday on the NGT proposal by Jessica Polfjärd, the responsible rapporteur of the file in the lead committee, goes back on two essential provisions for the biodynamic and organic sector, including the ban of category 1 NGTs in organic farming (art. 5(2)) and the seed bag labelling of category 1 NGT plant reproductive material (art. 10). Both provisions ensure the right for organic and biodynamic operators to produce without using NGTs and allow freedom of choice for farmers.
"Alongside the organic sector, the Biodynamic Federation Demeter International remains committed to GMO-free farming and breeding, as the use of gene editing technologies clearly goes against the principles of biodynamic and organic farming. The precautionary approach to all changes made in our genetic heritage and planetary biodiversity is of primary importance, ensuring free access to genetic resources and diversity. For these reasons, the Demeter Standard strictly prohibits the use of seed, propagation, or plant material produced by NGTs.
"The right for biodynamic and organic operators to produce without NGTs must be safeguarded by clear provisions in the legal framework. In this regard, all NGTs, including category 1 NGTs, must be banned in organic production. Without a clear framework, additional burdens will be created for the whole GMO-free sector, including a breach of consumer trust.
Clara Behr, head of policy and public relations at the Federation, added, “Farmers and producers must have the freedom to choose. Traceability and labelling are key in this regard. As farming starts with seeds, the freedom of choice starts with a mandatory seed bag labelling of category 1 NGTs as a minimum traceability requirement."
The report will now be discussed in both the Environment and Agriculture Committees of the European Parliament. The Federation called upon MEPs to "safeguard GMO-free farming systems, including organic and biodynamic farming, by ensuring the freedom of choice for breeders, farmers, and operators, and by reinstating the ban of category 1 NGTs in organic production".
Clara Behr concluded, “There is only one way forward: traceability and labelling must be ensured for all NGTs."