Regions and their farmers need to have a choice whether they want to grow GMO crops or not. This is why, during the meeting with Commissioner Fischer Boel, the Assembly of European Regions (AER) called once again for the adoption of European directive on coexistence between GM and conventional/organic crops.
On behalf of the AER, Dr Josef Martinz, Minister for Agriculture of Carinthia (A) stated: ‘The cross-contamination between GM and GM free crops knows no borders! Giving responsibility away to the Member States to legislate on coexistence would only create confusion and take forever. We agree that climate condition and farming structures vary from one State to another, but the precautionary and polluter-pays principles have to apply for the whole of Europe. The AER is in favour of subsidiarity but this is a subject which can only be tackled properly on a European level. An EU directive on coexistence would provide a common set of standards and minimum requirements, whilst Member States or Regions could go further if they wish to have stricter criteria’.
In fact, the European Commission’s report on coexistence measures taken in the Member States published on 9th March clearly states that the EC does not intend to propose any EU legislation on coexistence of GMOs and non-GM crops. Instead of legislation, the Commission recommends collaborating with the Member States and all interested parties to establishing standards aiming at keeping crops separate. This cooperation is supposed to start on the occasion of the conference on coexistence organised jointly by the EC and the Austrian Presidency in Vienna on 5 and 6 April. However, although the AER, as an active partner on this issue and a promoter of a coexistence framework* since 2004, was invited at this conference, only one of its member Regions will be able to take the floor at this event.
‘The AER regrets this wait and contaminate’ policy on GMOs’ said Dr Martinz. ‘We should not in advance give in to possible claims of the WTO which we suspect is motivated by the interests of international industries that want to sell their GM seeds.’
AER and its member regions will promote regional quality labels as they are economic tools for the regions and can significantly contribute to their rural development.
*See the AER position on coexistence in 10 principles adopted in May 2005
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