EU to approve support for failing GM crops sector

21 May 2007

Brussels, May 21st 2007 - The EU is poised today to approve further financial and political support for genetically modified (GM) crops [1, despite growing evidence that the sector is failing.

Helen Holder, coordinator of the Friends of the Earth Europe GMOs campaign, said:
"EU leaders continue to blindly push for genetically modified crops, despite clear signals of their market failure. The EU should instead be using the mid-term review of its strategy for biotechnology to promote greener farming methods which are competitive and create jobs."

EU Competitiveness Ministers will today endorse a proposal from the European Commission [2] that promotes genetically modified crops - among other biotechnology sectors - while failing to acknowledge that:

  • Industry and government figures show that the genetically modified crops sector is failing [3]
  • There is no market for GM crops since the majority of the European public does not want to eat genetically modified food [4]
  • The European Commission's measures for the commercial growing of genetically modified crops are putting GM-free farming at risk from contamination, as well as citizens' rights to GM-free food [5]
  • GM crops currently offer no advantage over conventional crops for producing biofuels and there is growing concern about the impacts in developing countries about the large scale production of biofuels [6].

"Scratching under the spin reveals that the European Commission and EU member states plan to chip away at biotechnology safety laws, put GM free farming at irreversible risk of contamination and fund public relations campaigns to sell GM crops to the European public," Ms Holder added.

Friends of the Earth Europe recently published an analysis of data from both the agricultural biotechnology industry and the European Commission, which showed that GM crops are not performing economically.� In contrast, green farming methods, including organic agriculture, show real economic potential as well as being environmentally friendly and benefiting from public support. [7]

***

[1] Industrial Policy - Draft Council Conclusions, May 15th 2007, 9622/07

[2] Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the mid term review of the Strategy on Life Sciences and Biotechnology, April 10th 2007, COM(2007) 175 final

[3] Critical I, 2005 and 2006

[4] Eurobarometer, Gaskell et al., June 2006

[5] "Contaminate or Legislate? European Commission policy on "coexistence", Friends of the Earth Europe, April 2006, http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2006/contaminate_or_legislate.pdf

[6] http://esa.un.org/un-energy/pdf/susdev.Biofuels.FAO.pdf

[7] "The EU's Biotechnology Strategy: mid-term review or mid-life crisis? A scoping study on how European agricultural biotechnology will fail the Lisbon objectives and on the socioeconomic benefits of ecologically compatible farming" Friends of the Earth Europe, March 2007
http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2007/FoEE_biotech_MTR_midlifecrisis_March07.pdf

Related Issues