Unmasking new GMOs: how the EU Commission’s proposal threatens nature, and consumers’ and farmers’ right to transparency

Brussels, 26 October 2023 – Today, EU agriculture lawmakers debate the European Commission’s controversial proposal to widely deregulate the new generation of genetically modified organisms (new GMOs, so-called ‘new genomic techniques’), before it goes to environment Members of the European Parliament. During a press briefing held today, Friends of the Earth Europe and Slow Food warned about the grave risks the proposal poses for consumers’, farmers’ and breeders’ right to transparency, as well as for nature protection.
The far-reaching deregulation proposal suggests to exclude new GMO plants such as products from CRISPR-Cas9 from the current legal framework for GMOs, which would exempt them from labelling requirements as well as safety checks and traceability processes. This would prevent the entire supply-chain and consumers from wilfully opting for GM-free choices, undermining their right to transparency and information about the food they buy.
Madeleine Coste, director of advocacy at Slow Food, said: “There is no more doubt that agriculture and food systems need to be transformed in order to fight the climate and biodiversity crises. Whilst we hear promises that new GMOs will help farmers do so, there is simply no evidence at this stage. New GM techniques like CRISPR are new in agriculture – it is completely irresponsible and premature to abolish or even weaken the strong EU regulations we have to assess their safety and guarantee freedom of choice to consumers and farmers.”
Mute Schimpf, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “Agribusiness corporations are telling everyone who will listen that their new GMOs are the silver bullet to sustainable food systems, yet they are doing everything they can to hide them. The truth is that they know consumers do not want them and so they are trying to sneak them onto supermarket shelves to boost their profits. The European Parliament and ministers should not be complicit, they should stand up for the right to transparency.”
Grietje Raaphorst, seed producer ad co-owner of Nordic Maize breeding, said: “The Commission is ready to strengthen food monopolies and curtail freedom of choice for breeders, farmers, and citizens. They’re doing it because they’ve been misled by the agro-industry’s false promise that new GMOs could feed the world sustainably. A proper transition to a sustainable food system can only happen through diversity in crops, genetic sources, breeding companies and farming practices –something that the agro-industry ignores because it needs monocultures to continue selling more pesticides.”
The proposal will be discussed by members of the Agriculture and Environment committees of the European Parliament today, on 26th of October, and on 7th of November respectively. Friends of the Earth Europe and Slow Food call on MEPs to reject the European Commission’s proposal and keep new GMOs regulated under the current EU GMO rules.
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