Shut down EFSA GMO panel
2.GM maize soon to return to French fields?
EXTRACTS: "EFSA is becoming the laughing stock of the scientific community. Rubber-stamping anything the agro-biotech industry puts forward, with the blessing of the European Commission, is destroying its credibility." (item 1)
Jean-Louis Borloo [Minister of Ecology and Sustainable Development and Planning] and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet [Secretary of State of Ecology] emphasised that "France... maintains its position on the safeguard clause [which lead to the banning of GM maize] and will uphold it at the Council of European Ministers". (item 2)
1.Greenpeace calls on Commission to shut down EFSA GMO panel
Greenpeace, 31 October 2008
Belgium -- The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) should be banned from issuing opinions on genetically modified crops until it is able to assess the long-term impact of GM technology on health and the environment, said Greenpeace today following EFSA's opinions on three highly controversial GM crops. While the EU is in the middle of a crucial debate on the reform of its authorisation system for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), EFSA has issued positive opinions on a Syngenta pesticide-producing maize (Bt11) and a Pioneer-Dow pesticide-producing and herbicide-tolerant maize (1507). EFSA has also stated that there is no scientific evidence to justify the French ban on Monsanto pesticide-producing maize (MON810).
"EFSA is becoming the laughing stock of the scientific community. Rubber-stamping anything the agro-biotech industry puts forward, with the blessing of the European Commission, is destroying its credibility," said MÃ¡rta Vetier, Greenpeace EU GMO campaigner.
For two of these GM crops (Bt11 and 1507), EFSA had already issued positive opinions. Nonetheless, these were sent back to the authority in May 2008 after the Commission found that essential elements were missing from the risk assessment. But nothing has been done yet to improve the system.
EFSA's opinions reject recent scientific evidence highlighting the negative impact caused by GM crops on biodiversity and the environment (1).
The Commission's health and environment director-generals recently wrote to EFSA's executive director urging the authority to assess health and environmental impacts related to the increased use of herbicides because of GM crops (2). In April this year, EFSA also agreed with the Commission to spend two years improving its capacity to assess the long-term and indirect impacts of GMOs (3). The majority of member states currently debating GMOs at Council level also agree that EU risk assessment must be strengthened.
"Greenpeace calls on the Commission to shut down the EFSA GMO panel until it is able to function properly under EU law," said Vetier.
Notes to Editor
2.GM maize soon to return to French fields?
By Guillaume Launay
Libération, 31 October 2007
[French to English translation by GM-free Ireland]
*The European Food Safety Authority rules that the safeguard clause invoked by France to suspend the cultivation of Monsanto's GM maize was not justified.
Will the GM maize Mon 810 return to French fields? It is back in the debate, at any rate. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has advised that the safeguard clause, invoked by France in February to suspend the cultivation of Monsanto's GM maize, was not justified. In an opinion released on 29 October, the agency's GMO panel concluded that the data provided by Paris to support its request "did not present new scientific proofs of risks to human or animal health, or to the environment, which could have justified the invocation of the safeguard clause".
A principle of the Grenelle de l'environnement falters
The "serious doubts" invoked by the advance commitee on GMOs are thus swept aside, and one of the principles of the Grenelle de l'Environnement [France's national stakeholder discussions on the environment held in late 2007] is faltering. Mon 810 is not thereby formally authorised: the decision reverts to the European Commission. But the latter usually follows EFSA's opinions.
Greenpeace reacted strongly to this announcement, describing it as a "serious decision" and criticising EFSA which has almost always ruled in favour of GMOs: "Despite the serious doubts over EFSA's competence on GMOs, it continues to do as it has always done with total impunity: providing positive assessments of all GMOs!", complains Arnaud Apoteker of Greenpeace France. "Faced with adversity, EFSA thus refuses to listen and ignores concerns, at the expense of French and European citizens. This is unacceptable! Under these conditions, EFSA must be shut down until it has implemented the reforms expected by everyone". The reform of the GMO assessment at the European level is indeed one of the projects which France put on the agenda during its presidency of the Union.
In a press release issued at the end of the day, the Ministry of Ecology made a point of playing down the implications of EFSA's opinion, noting that while it may "constitute a step in the procedure, the decision returns the Council of European Ministers, and then possibly to the European Commission." Jean-Louis Borloo [Minister of Ecology and Sustainable Development and Planning] and Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet [Secretary of State of Ecology] emphasised that "France therefore maintains its position on the safeguard clause and will uphold it at the Council of European Ministers".