Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Commission’s proposed deregulation of a new strand of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) disregards safety and consumer rights, Greenpeace has warned.
The Commission’s proposal would remove or water down safety testing for GMOs produced with new gene editing techniques (mutagenesis and cisgenesis), and would exempt many from being labelled as GMO products. Drafts of the Commission’s plan included articles that would also end the right for national governments to ban these genetically modified plants from being grown on their territory.
Greenpeace EU GMO campaigner Eva Corral said: “Whether it’s a toy or a face cream, any product on the market needs to be safety tested – why would there be an exemption for GMOs that end up on our fields or in our plates? Biotech companies have long considered these safety procedures an unnecessary bother and it’s disappointing to see the Commission agree with them.”
Plants produced with gene editing techniques are currently regulated under the EU’s existing GMO legislation. These GMO rules include safeguarding measures, such as a scientific assessment to evaluate the risks for the environment and human health before releasing them on the market or into the fields, and require products containing GMOs to be clearly labelled. National governments in the EU can also ban certain GMO plants from being grown on their territory.
Organic farmers, conventional farmers and retailers have criticised the Commission’s proposal to deregulate these new GMOs. The governments of Austria and Luxembourg have also expressed their concern. Recent polls and petitions also show that people in Europe want new GMOs to remain labelled and regulated.
In 2018 the European Court of Justice found that the risks linked to new mutagenesis techniques, which do not involve inserting genetic material, could be similar to those from ‘classic’ GMOs. The Court said that excluding these new GMOs from the existing GMO rules would defeat the point of those rules – to protect the environment and human health – and would violate the precautionary principle.
The European Parliament will now decide which committee takes the lead on forming the Parliament’s position on the proposal, and national governments will decide which ministers will be in charge of agreeing their joint position.