Heated debate on GMO coexistence at EU Agriculture Council
Date: 30/09/2003 08:30
Ministers were deeply divided over the issues surrounding coexistence of GM and conventional crops at the Council meeting on 29 September.
The debate in the Agriculture Council on 29 September revealed the wide range of attitudes towards GM crops in the various Member States, when ministers discussed the coexistence of genetically modified organisms and traditional crops.
Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler presented the Commission's guidelines from 23 July 2003 to discuss whether they are sufficient to deal the with issues arising from cross-contamination of GM and conventional crops (see EurActiv 24 July 2003).
These guidelines had rejected calls for an EU-wide framework of rules. Mr Fischler emphasised that due to existing legislation dealing with the authorisiations of seeds, there was no food-safety or environmental risk issue at stake.
Nevertheless, the Council was strongly divided, and opinions ranged from Austria's call for a solid EU-wide framework on coexistence to a more liberal French and British position demanding maximum flexibility. The most controversial issues in this debate include GMO thresholds in organic produce; civil responsibility; thresholds for GMO in seeds; and the possibility of setting up GM-free zones.
The Agriculture Council will take up the debate again at its meeting on 13-14 October, but it will await the opinion of the Standing Committee on Seeds which is expected for 26-27 October.
EU Actors' Positions:
Greenpeace: Greenpeace requests Agriculture Ministers to save our seeds from contamination with GMOs (29 September 2003)
Commission: Guidelines for the development of national strategies and best practices to ensure the co-existence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming
Commission: GMOs: Commission publishes recommendations to ensure co-existence of GM and non-GM crops [FR] [DE] (23 July 2003)
Commission / Joint Research Centre: Co-Existence of GM Crops with Conventional and Organic Crops
RAPID: Question and Answers on the regulation of GMOs in the EU [FR] [DE] (29 September 2003)