Press Notice from GM Free Cymru 7th May 2008
In the light of today's decision by the European Commission to refer three GM varieties (1) back to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for scientific review, NGOs with an interest in GM matters have claimed that there is now a complete regulatory shambles in the GM assessment process.
At its GMO "orientation debate" on the morning of 7th May (2) the Commission decided not to support Commissioner Stavros Dimas, who had asked for a refusal of consent for the three varieties on the grounds that there have been serious doubts about the reliability of the long- standing EFSA decisions that they are safe and harmless to the environment. Many concerns have been raised about the Amflora potato by international institutions such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Institut Pasteur and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA); and the GM maize varieties have been subjected to intense scrutiny by national regulators and independent scientists, who have confirmed that there are considerable risks associated with them.
Speaking for GM Free Cymru, Dr Brian John said: "This decision is a political fudge which has nothing at all to do with science. Commissioner Dimas was perfectly correct in seeking to use the precautionary principle as a basis for the refusal of consent for these three varieties. But President Barroso has bowed to pressure from the Americans and the WTO, and in a feeble attempt not to upset them he is sending the three varieties back to EFSA for further study. This is completely ludicrous -- there is ample scientific evidence to show that these varieties are likely to damage both public health and the environment."
"How many times does Mr Barroso want EFSA to look at these varieties? It has looked at them twice already. EFSA is a corrupt organization which is predisposed to advise consent for ALL GM varieties, and it systematically rejects all the concerns raised by independent researchers and institutions. It is not fit for purpose, and it does not have the resources to undertake scientific analyses of its own. It has to depend upon the dossiers of evidence submitted by the applicant corporations, and we know from experience that these dossiers are cynically manipulated to screen out anything "inconvenient." So what we now have is the worst of all possible worlds. There has been a lack of decisive leadership, a refusal to accept the advice of the Commissioner who handles the GM portfolio, and now a botched attempt to get EFSA to "strengthen" its advice. President Barroso wants approvals at all costs, regardless of the evidence or the consequences (3). When will he and his Commission finally accept that there are major scientific doubts about GM varieties, that nobody needs them, and that the European public does not want them?"
Dr Brian John Tel 01239-820470
(1) The three varieties are the BASF "Amflora" GM potato, the Syngenta GM maize referred to as BT11, and the Pioneer/Dow GM maize referred to as line 1507. The first of these contains a gene which confers resistance to certain antibiotics, and the other two are engineered to produce their own insecticide. For further information on the dangers associated with GM maize varieties and the GM potato see www.greenpeace.eu and www.foeeurope.org
(2) MEETING REPORT EU delays decision on approving more GM crops Wed May 7, 2008 3:56pm IST http://in.reuters.com/article/governmentFilingsNews/ idINBRU00649720080507
(3) "The commission will ask EFSA, the European Food and Safety Authority, to analyse further scientific evidence on the effects of these GMOs on the environment and human health," spokesman Johannes Laitenberger said. "The commission will adopt these decisions if and when EFSA has confirmed the safety of these products," he added. http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/1210162622.34 So what happens when EFSA, true to form, has "confirmed the safety of these products" for the third time, while other scientific bodies say the evidence points to harmful side effects? The standoff will continue, bringing further ridicule down upon the head of President Barroso.