Urgent: Commission railroading through new GM measures
GM Freeze is asking you to write urgently to Caroline Spelman MP, Secretary of State for the Environment asking her to block current proposals by the European Commission to amend the GMO Deliberate Release Directive 2001/18 and revise the guidelines on coexistence. The Commission has tabled proposals with an extremely short time frame, so acting by 30 July is very important, and certainly before 9 July.
The European Commission is proposing to:
a) Immediately relax the guidelines on co-existence of GM and non-GM crops; this would allow member states more autonomy to prevent GM crop cultivation on their territory and take measure to avoid unintended presence of GMOs in other product (based on Art. 26a of Directive 2001/18). The guidelines would be non-legally binding (as with the previous guidelines published in 2003) and could be in force by the middle of July.
b) Amend the Directive 2001/18 to allow member states flexibility to ban the cultivation of GM crops within their territory by the insertion of one new Article (26b). This would allow Member States:
"to adopt measures, prohibiting, restricting or impeding the cultivation of all or particular GMOs & including GM varieties placed on the market, in accordance with relevant EU legislation on the marketing of seed & plant propagating material in all or part of its territory".
Member states could use reasons other than the scientific ones relevant under the safeguard clause (Art. 23 Directive 2001/18/EC). This legislative amendment would be adopted under co-decision procedure.
It is very clear from the explanatory memorandum issued that the Commission has only offered countries the right to decide about the cultivation on their territories in return for a relaxation in their opposition to GMO applications for cultivation (in order to fast track these approvals). The memorandum states: "the current ... framework ... would give Member States legal certainty to allow to possible change their voting position on individual authorisations."
Our interpretation of what has been proposed by the Commission is that it does not provide Member States with the legal surety they would require to ban a GM crop or crops from their territory. In fact it may not amount to much more than their current legal powers.
We are therefore extremely concerned about the current proposal because in return for these Ã¢â‚¬Å“concessionsÃ¢â‚¬ regarding the control of GMO cultivation on their territory, Members States will be expected to relax their opposition to GM crop applications for cultivation. If the CommissionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ploy is successful it could lead to a flush of approvals (there are 16 in the pipeline), for which there are many outstanding safety concerns on health and environmental grounds. Indeed the whole risk assessment process was due to be overhauled, following recommendations from the Council of Ministers in 2008, but so far this has not happened.
The Commission is attempting to push through the proposal at breakneck speed, without proper consultation with any third parties, by 13 July, so please write by 30 June if possible (to give time to affect Defra positions), and no later than 9 July to:
Caroline Spelman MP
Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
London SW1P 3JR
Asking her to:
*Reject the present proposals because they do not provide Member States with the power they need to ban GMOs from all or part of their territory.
Support a moratorium on approvals until a full revision of GMO legislation is passed.
Give the right of countries to ban cultivation not only health and environment grounds but also on socio-economic grounds, as well as the right of regions to ban cultivation on socio-economic grounds.
*Require a legally binding EU wide technical implementation of seed purity provisions (with a zero threshold) for all species.
*Require Member States deciding to approve any GMO cultivation to take appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in other products, including cross-border contamination.
*Require an assessment of socio-economic issues at EU approval stage in an appropriate and fully inclusive procedure involving all stakeholders.
Introduce strict liability for all economic, health and environmental harms caused by GMOs with preventive measures arising from the cultivation or import of GM crops, including cross-border controls and testing, to be borne by the consent holders and users of these crops.
Many thanks for your help with this important job - please pass this on to others you feel may wish to respond as well, and you can watch our web site for updates - www.gmfreeze.org.