EU Commission proposes to deregulate new GMOs in spectacular submission to the biotech industry.
The European Commission has launched its highly controversial proposal to deregulate New GMOs or ‘new genomic techniques’. This will increase risks for the environment and health, and undermine the rights of farmers and consumers.
The new proposal means:
- No risk assessment for health and the environmental impacts of these new GMOs
- No consumer labelling, no traceability: Consumers will not know if they are eating new GMOs, that are in addition untested.
- New GMOs are not allowed in organic farming, but no measures are foreseen to allow GM-free and organic farmers and breeders to keep their fields GMO-free.
- Corporations already dominating the patent pool on these technologies, like Corteva, Bayer and BASF, will be able to enter the EU market with unlabelled and untraceable - but patented – GMOs, which will further increase their control over farmers and food production in Europe.
Corporate Europe Observatory, along with hundreds of environmental and farming groups, is strongly opposed to this proposal.
Nina Holland researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) says:
“This deregulation proposal is a massive give-away by the European Commission to corporations like Bayer and BASF, without getting anything in return.
“This will not lead to more sustainable farming practices, on the contrary. The assumption the Commission makes that new GMOs would lead to more sustainability were based solely on industry’s claims, instead of real evidence.
“Since new GM seeds will be patented, this will erode farmers’ rights, and it will lead to a further monopolisation of the already highly concentrated seed market.
“Unless corrected by member states and the European Parliament, such a move would ignore the interests of farmers, civil society and biodiversity.”
Direct outcome of corporate lobby push
This deregulation was driven by the biotech multinational giants Bayer (Monsanto), BASF, Syngenta and Corteva, with some researchers from institutes like the VIB or Wageningen University acting as their frontmen claiming to invoke the “authority of science” while having close ties to industry. Corporate Europe Observatory has been documenting this intense lobbying push for deregulation for years.
Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory, says:
“The Commission wrongly claims that this deregulation of new GMOs will help obtain the EU Green Deal objectives. There is no evidence that new GMOs will reduce pesticides, and since the dominant biotech seed and pesticide corporations are one and the same (Bayer, BASF, Corteva, Syngenta) there is even less reason to believe that this would be their priority.
“The European Commission was warned of the negative consequences of such a proposal multiple times by scientists, small farmers, the organic food sector and a large number of civil society organisations. DG SANTE has chosen to consistently ignore the voices of these groups to the extent of breaking its own rules on democratic process
“Environmental and consumer safety authorities, as well as members of the EU Parliament, should outright reject this proposal.”
The EU Ombudsman started an inquiry last month after CEO and Friends of the Earth Europe submitted a complaint about the biased process by DG SANTE.
More information: Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory researcher, mobile + 32 466 294420, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to the editor:
- The Ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) from July 2018 can be found here: ‘Organisms obtained by mutagenesis are GMOs and are, in principle, subject to the obligations laid down by the GMO Directive’. Biotech seed corporations have been lobbying the Commission intensively to get the EU rules on GMOs scrapped for New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) since this ruling
- In a recent report ‘New Genome Techniques – A risky corporate distraction from real sustainable solutions’ Foodwatch concluded that “NGTs so far only seem to be an empty promise. Genetically modified crops suitable to achieve the “Farm to Fork” objectives are not available. It seems, they won’t be available within the next 10-15 years. Contrary to what proponents claim, under the current circumstances crops created by NGTs should be considered a high-risk technology as they pose a number of risks.”
- On 16 March, Environment ministers sent a clear message to the European Commission on New Genomic Techniques advocating for the implementation of the precautionary principle and keeping risk assessment for NGTs.
- Over 300 organisations, including CEO, wrote a letter to Vice-President Timmermans in May 2023 to keep the EU GMO rules in place for all GMOs and therefore stop the planned deregulation of new GMOs. Over 400K citizens signed a petition with that demand.