PRESS NOTICE 23 March 2005 from GM Free Cymru
The European Commission has been accused by environmental and consumer groups of arrogance and "increasingly bizarre behaviour" over GM crops and foods, following its meeting in Brussels yesterday.
It appears that the new Commission has now agreed (1): * to proceed with pending authorisations of GM foods regardless of the safety concerns of EU member states * to confirm its satisfaction with the deeply flawed GMO assessment and approval process, in spite of widespread criticism from NGOs and member states * to submit to the Environment Council proposals to force countries to lift their bans on GM crops and products * to approve GM crops for cultivation even before "coexistence" legislation is fully in place * to persist with its policy on arbitrary labelling thresholds in spite of legal advice that these are unlawful * to dismiss calls for the approvals process to be "frozen" until full liability legislation is in place
Although the main components of the EC statement were leaked prior to the meeting, NGOs based in Brussels are nonetheless surprised by the arrogance of the Commission, and its failure to recognize any inconsistencies or failings in its GM approvals process.
Speaking for GM Free Cymru, Dr Brian John said: "The EC is living in cloud cuckoo land. It appears oblivious to the fact that more and more European regions want "GM Free" status, that 70% of people in Europe do not want to eat GM foods, that it cannot obtain majority decisions from the member states for GM approvals, and that more and more scientific concerns are coming to the surface about the safety of GM crops and foods. There are no effective coexistence measures in place across Europe, and GM crops are impossible to insure. Not even the biotechnology multinationals appear to want to proceed with their GM crops, and farmers do not want to grow them. That is all bizarre enough, but now the Commission has also refused to accept Bayer's withdrawal of its application for its GM oilseed rape to be grown in Europe. That is not just eccentric -- it is simply crazy. The new Commission has just started work -- and it appears already to have taken leave of its senses."
GM Free Cymru has already accused the Commission of riding roughshod over the legitimate views of consumers, and of playing politics with the health of the people of Europe by fashioning its policies and its decisions to suit the needs of the USA and the WTO. It has also accused the Commission of arrogance in refusing to take seriously GM health, safety and environmental concerns raised by independent scientists.
The NGO has now made one further point. Dr John said: "The Commission has backed the British Government's FSE research programme, which has shown comprehensively that GMHT (herbicide tolerant) crops when grown under commercial conditions do undoubtedly harm the environment. Such crops are therefore illegal under EU law. And yet the Commission wants to continue giving authorisations for them to be grown in the EU, to allow them to be grown elsewhere (thereby harming other environments), and finally to be imported as food and animal feed into the EU. The illogicality and dishonesty of this position is quite staggering."
Contact: Dr Brian John 01239-820470