This is the reply sent by Commissioner John Dalli (signed by Joanna Darmanin, Head of Cabinet) in response to our letter dated 1st May. That letter is on the GM-Free Cymru web site, here: http://www.gmfreecymru.org/open_letters/Open_letter01May2012.html
The response is as complacent and disingenuous as usual, and the Commissioner pointedly refuses to act on our request for an urgent reassessment of all GM soy consents issued in Europe, and also refuses to take any action to reassess the toxic effects of Roundup in the food chain, in spite of the accumulating evidence of harm in the scientific literature. In our view the Commission is now acting in a manner which is criminally negligent. We will be responding...........
EUROPEAN COMMISSION Cabinet of Commissioner John Dalli Head of Cabinet
Brussels, 28 June 2012
Ref. Ares(2012)783528 - 28/06/2012
Dear Mr John,
Thank you for your letter of 1 May 2012 to Commissioner Dalli in which you express your concerns regarding the GM soybeans and Roundup residues and their impact on animal health. The annexed "Danish dossier" has received the Commission's full attention. The Commissioner asked me to reply on his behalf.
In reaction to your concerns, I want first to underline that the Commission is strongly committed to ensuring that GM food and feed are only authorised when they are not likely to have adverse effects on human and animal health or the environment. To this effect, the EU legislation provides for a well-defined regulatory framework on GMOs and particularly Regulation (EC) No. 1829/2003 (1) and Directive 2001/18/EC (2) of the European Parliament and of the Council. According to this framework, any genetically modified organism, before being placed on the market within the EU, has to undergo a specific safety assessment of the highest possible standard by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in order to protect human and animal health and environment.
It must be highlighted that in the case of the GM soybeans assessment, as well as in all other GM crops, EFSA monitors and takes into consideration studies which have been published in order to conduct its assessment. The Commission may also ask EFSA to assess any independent studies that may come to its attention before or after the scientific opinion is adopted. This process ensures that relevant data have been taken into consideration by EFSA when concluding on the safety of the GMO. In addition, the assessment of potential risks to health and the environment does not end with the authorisation procedure. Indeed, once a GMO is authorised for food and feed or cultivation uses, the potential effects of GM plants on the environment and health, even unforeseen ones, are monitored. Monitoring results are regularly assessed by EFSA and analysed by the Commission and Member States to see whether the conditions for authorising a GM plant for cultivation, or the authorisation itself, need to be revised.
I would like to remind you that the authorisation and placing on the market of plant protection products is a responsibility of Member States. When granting an authorisation Member States shall comply with the provisions of Reg. (EC) No 1107/2009 (3) and carry out a comprehensive risk assessment for each specific use. Furthermore, Member States shall implement Directive 2009/128/EC on the sustainable use of pesticides. This Directive has the objective to reduce as much as possible any risk on human health and on the environment due to the use of pesticides and to encourage low input of pesticides or pesticide-free cultivation.
As regards your allegations about negative effects of glyphosate on human and animal health, it must be observed that, to date, this view is not shared by the competent Member States' authorities, which are closely following up the matter in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health. Indeed, so far, none of the findings reported in the press has been considered robust enough to overrule the existing marketing and use conditions set out when the substance had been originally approved in 2002.
Concerning your request to reduce the dependency of European farming on imported GM soya, I would like to stress that over the past decades the Community has already developed numerous schemes to support domestic production of plant protein for the compound feed industry, including support for oilseeds, protein crops and dried fodder. In addition, allow me to point out that should there be a development of European soya production capacity equivalent to the current over 30 million tonnes annual imports, this would require additional soya area of 13.6 million hectares. This represents almost 60% of the Union's wheat area or 24% of the Union's total cereals area. The dependency on imports would therefore only be shifted to another crop. Therefore, Europe's agriculture is best served by market orientation, i.e. producing what it does best. It should also be noted that increased production of rapeseed meal and distillers' grain as a by-product of bio-fuels production already led in the last decade to a substantial substitution of our imports of soya beans and soya meals.
In the perspective of continued imports of soya from third countries, it should be underlined that several initiatives are taken for sustainable GM soya production. The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) is a multi-stakeholder initiative which aims to facilitate a global dialogue on soya production that is economically viable, socially equitable and environmentally sound. It provides stakeholders and interested parties - producers, social organizations and industry - with the opportunity to jointly develop global solutions leading to responsible soya production.
In conclusion I am confident that the regulatory framework provides for the assurance of a high-level of protection of human and animal health and the environment. The Commission will continue to fulfil its responsibilities in the implementation of this legislation which we constantly monitor for possible improvements.
1 Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2003 on genetically modified food and feed, OJ L 268, 18.10.2003
2 Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2001 on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms and repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC, OJ L 106, 17.4.2001
3 OJ L 309,24.11.2009
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