Coexistence of Genetically Modified/Conventional/Organic Crops (Extract from: Background for the 26/27 May Agriculture Council)

May 23, 2003

Brussels, 22 May 2003

The Council will be informed by the Commission on the latest state of play of the discussions at the roundtable organised on 24 April on the coexistence of GM, conventional and organic crops. It is also expected that the Council will have an exchange of views on the subject.

This round table on the coexistence of GM/nonGM crops was held on 24 April and organised by the Commission and gathered several scientists and NGOs. It took place after several requests made in particular by the Italian delegation during the last semester to have clear guidelines and a broad orientation provided by the Commission on this issue.

The Commission recalled its preference for the subsidiarity principle, as a simpler and efficient way to solve this issue and stressed the need to take into account regional specificity, and crops which have already been experimented. The Commission indicated its intention to submit a first row of guidelines before the second semester 2003.

The loss of markets shares for GM-labelled crops, the increased costs of organic and conventional products due to the measures of protection to take in order to avoid contamination at close range by GM crops were issues particularly raised by the participants. Regarding the issue of liability for damages caused by contamination to farmers growing non-GM crops, the Commission emphasised the role of national legislation for providing compensation in the case of possible economic losses.

Several delegations are expected to comment the point of view expressed by the Commission and possibly ask for a stronger commitment at Community level on this topic, in order to avoid divergent national policies. df

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