Strasbourg (F), 7 September 2004
Since the European Commission decided to lift the ban on new GMOs last May, two new GM maize (BT11 and NK603) were authorised for sale within the EU and 17 new GM varieties of maize are likely to be authorised soon. During its meeting tomorrow, the European Commission will also tackle the sensitive question of the tolerance level for accidental contamination of seeds in conventional and organic harvests for which Commissioner Fischler’s proposal has already fixed a threshold of 0.3%.
The Assembly of European Regions condemns this headlong rush of the European Commission into transgenic agriculture, without any European general regulation on coexistence between traditional and GM-crops. “This European Commission new step forward on the GMO issue, if taken, puts the very future of the European traditional agriculture at stake” stated Brian Greenslade, President of the AER Committee on regional development. “Among the Member States, so far only Denmark has coexistence rules based on the Community precautionary and polluter-pays principles. Germany has just started adopting a genuine coexistence law. Other Member states are not really prepared to cope with a likely widespread dissemination of GMOs to conventional and organic crops” he underlined. “According to several governmental and independent studies, the risks are very high. More controversially the economic consequences rest with farmers whose conventional or organic crops were damaged ” he pointed out.
Moreover, nearly two thousand regional and local authorities across Europe have declared themselves GMO-free areas, challenging the European law on the single market. By their decisions, supported by consumers, traditional producers and environmental associations, they want to confront the risks of contamination by GMOs and to protect their territory’s traditional agriculture as well as products of designated origin. The European Commission has not yet taken into account this move which is now spreading across a majority of EU Member states. The AER supports them by launching a joint campaign with Friends of the Earth for GMO-free zones and regions in Europe. This campaign will be presented to the European media on the 14th September, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg (4.00 pm).
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