Green NGO's condemn Commission's recommendation to allow genetic contamination in organic food

July 25, 2003

Brussels, 24 Jul 2003

Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth Europe and the European Environmental Bureau today condemned the European Commission' s recommendation on co-existence between genetically modified (GM) and non-GM crops. The green NGO's urge the EU memberstates to go against the Commission's advice to allow genetic contamination of organic products by applying a labelling threshold of 0.9% GMO's to "conventional and organic farming alike."(1) The environmental organisations have however welcomed the Commissions recommendation that "measures of a regional dimension could be considered" to prevent contamination.This opens the door to regional bans of GM crops.

The yet unpublished recommendation, that will be discussed in the Commission later today, is not legally binding and therefore the EU memberstates have the right to take more far reaching measures to ensure that organic and conventional crops do not get contaminated by GMO's. Amendments, adopted by the European Parliament in July, state that "member states may take appropriate measures to avoid the unintended presence of GMO's in other products". Parliament's amendments also say that the responsibility to avoid genetic pollution should lie with the GM producers.

Geert Ritsema of Friends of the Earth said: "The Commission 's recommendation to allow GMO's in organic crops is totally unacceptable. This would mean the death of organic food and farming. Member States should reject that recommendation and bring in tough legislation to prevent genetic contamination and to ensure consumer choice."

There is widespread scientific agreement that many GM crops, if grown on a large scale, will contaminate conventional and organic farms over an extensive area. Therefore the green NGO's urge the memberstates to take appropriate measures, such as creating GMO free zones and the adoption of legislation that establishes zero tolerance for contamination of seeds by GMO's., "Memberstates should make clear in their national legislation that GM producers are the ones responsible to avoid GMO's in food, feed and especially seeds. According to the polluter pays principle GM producers should also bear the cost of anti-contamination measures", said Eric Gall from Greenpeace.

Mauro Albrizio from the European Environmental Bureau added: "The right to eat GM-free food will be severely compromised if GM crops are grown on a large scale. The Commission must accept that no one wants GM foods and that public authorities have every right to protect their consumers and environment. "

(1) Draft Commission Recommendation on guidelines for the development of national strategies and best practices to ensure the co-existence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming.


Friends of the Earth Europe, Geert Ritsema, phone:+32(0)2-542 0182 or +31-(0)6-290 05 908 (mobile)
European Environmental Bureau, Mauro Albrizio, phone:+32(0)2-280 6416 or +32 (0)479-940251
Greenpeace European Unit, Eric Gall,+32 (0)496-161582

European Environmental Bureau Federation of Environmental Citizens Organisations

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