Environmentalists and regional authorities launch joint initiative
Strasbourg (F), 14 September 2004
Today the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and Friends of the Earth Europe (FoE) have launched a joint long-term campaign that aims to protect traditional crops and products from the consequences of the introduction of new genetic technologies. Among other things the AER and FoE will lobby together for a European legal framework on the coexistence of traditional and transgenic crops, as well as for the legal recognition of GMO-free zones and regions in Europe.
The AER and FOE call for a binding EU coexistence regulation, following the example of the law that was recently adopted by the German Parliament, with a clear definition of:
- – biosafety measures such as separation distances between GM and non-GM crops and a public register for GMOs;
- – a liability scheme in the event that conventional and organic crops as well as their seeds are contaminated by GMOs, on the basis of the precautionary and polluter-pays principles;
- – the right of Member States and regional authorities to prohibit or restrict the use or sale of GMOs within the Common market if there is evidence of an advanced risk of extensive dissemination or a negative impact on the environment;
- – legal provisions enabling the regions to define all or a part of their territory as a GMO-free zone or region, without these decisions being seen as an infringement to the Community principle of free movement of goods.
Klaus Klipp, Secretary General of the Assembly of European Regions said: “Since 1999, nearly two thousand regional and local authorities across Europe have declared themselves GMO-free areas, challenging the European law on the Common market. They want to confront the risks of contamination by GMOs and to protect their traditional and organic agriculture, as well as their products of designated origin. Via this joint initiative the AER aims to have the voice of the Regions heard at the European level”.
Geert Ritsema of Friends of the Earth said: “It is clear that environmentalists and European regions have a common interest to protect biodiversity, traditional and organic agriculture against the risks of GMOs. And today the German law on coexistence give us a chance to respond properly to GMO issue at European level”.
Several Members of the European Parliament were present at today’s press conference, where the joint AER/FoE initiative was launched:
Mr. Janusz Wojciechowski, EEP, PL, Vice-President of Agriculture Committee said: “Poland and other new EU Member states want to avoid the errors that the old EU Member states made in the past in order to preserve our traditional agriculture. We may produce less than them but our food must be natural and consumer-friendly. Only such a policy can help us to uphold small farms and maintain jobs in rural areas”.
Mrs. Jillian Evans, Greens/EFA, UK, said: “What is happening at European level since the Commission lifted the moratorium is additional proof that the European Parliament, which adopted the resolution on coexistence between GM and non-GM in December 2003, has not been heard once again. We welcome the German Parliament’s step forward on the issue, which opens the way to a new approach of coexistence”.
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