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Parliament slams door on Commission’s GM crop policy

Press release - October 28, 2015
Brussels – Today, the European Parliament rejected an ill-conceived Commission proposal on GM crop imports for use as food and feed, and called for a new proposal. Greenpeace welcomes this decision because the Commission’s plan would have failed to provide additional protection of European citizens and the environment from the risks posed by GM crops.

The Commission had wanted to give national governments a theoretical right to ban GM crops approved for use as food and feed in the EU [1]. However, these national bans would have been impossible to defend in court against the EU’s internal market rules because the Commission ruled out health or environmental concerns as legitimate justifications for an opt-out. Despite the rejection by a large majority of MEPs, the Commission said it would maintain its proposal.

Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace EU food policy director, said: “Today’s vote is a resounding ‘no’ to the Commission’s plan to give EU governments a fake right to stop the use of GM food and animal feed on their territory . The Juncker Commission has promised to make the GM approval process more democratic, but failed to reform the authorisation rules. Instead, it retained its disproportionate powers to approve GM crops on the basis of incomplete risk assessments and against widespread public and political opposition”.

As part of his Political Guidelines for the new Commission [2], Jean-Claude Juncker had promised to make the EU rules for GM crop authorisations more democratic, so the Commission would no longer push through GM crops against a ‘clear majority’ of EU member states. The Parliament reminded President Juncker today that he has yet to deliver on this commitment.

Greenpeace has filed a complaint with the European Ombudsman about the Commission’s failure to disclose the policy options considered in preparation of the rejected proposal. The Commission’s secrecy has contributed to the Parliament’s decision to reject the draft, argued Greenpeace [3].

Notes:

[1] The Commission can authorise GM crops for import into the EU for use as food and feed, as well as the cultivation of GM crops within the EU. So far, over 60 GM crops have been approved for import, mostly from the Americas. Only one GM crop can be lawfully grown in the EU: Monsanto’s GM maize, MON810, which is mainly grown in Spain. Seventeen EU countries and four regions (Wallonia in Belgium, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in the UK) have requested that their territories be excluded from existing and pending GM crop approvals for cultivation.

[2] Jean-Claude Juncker: “A New Start for Europe: My Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change”. http://ec.europa.eu/priorities/docs/pg_en.pdf

[3] “Greenpeace files Ombudsman complaint about Commission GM food and feed opt-out plan”, press release:http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/News/2015/Greenpeace-files-Ombudsman-complaint-about-Commission-GM-food-and-feed-opt-out-plan/

Contacts:

Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace EU food policy director: +32 (0)2 274 1918, 

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911,

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs: www.twitter.com/GreenpeaceEU

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.

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