It is unscientific, risky for health and the environment, bad for consumer freedom of choice and means a power grab by the European Commission.
On 5 July 2023, the European Commission (DG SANTE) published a law proposal to deregulate new GMOs (products from genome editing techniques, also called ‘new genomic techniques’ or NGTs). The Commission’s proposal was met with strong criticism as it is scientifically unfounded and it creates more risks for the environment and health.
A Q&A session with the author via zoom is being held on Wednesday 8 November 2023 at 9.30am CEST (see further details below).
According to the legal analysis :
-The Commission’s legislative initiative is manifestly intended to lower the level of consumer protection :
New genomic techniques (NGTs, also called genome editing techniques) have been recognised as producing GMOs by the European Court of Justice in its 2018 ruling. While the existing legislation sets a high level of consumers’ protection, the Commission proposal aims manifestly to lower the level of protection for European consumers, by depriving them of any kind of safety assessment and information on what they will be eating in the future. There will be no risk assessment and consumer labelling for most NGT products. This contradicts Art. 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
-The Commission’s proposal is unscientific and misleading : The so-called ‘criteria of equivalence’ (Annex I), that define which new GMOs will be completely deregulated (Category 1) and which will be still regulated but to a lower level (Category 2), are purely arbitrary and have no rational or scientific fundament. The Commission itself provides no justification whatsoever for the figures chosen.
It should be noted that using these criteria, the large majority of NGTs currently in the pipeline will be deregulated, according to research by the German federal agency for nature conservation (BfN).
In addition, plants obtained by further cross-breeding with such deregulated Category 1 varieties would also get a complete free ride. Interventions in the genome of plants will in fact be totally unlimited, and the proposed definition of the “breeder’s gene pool” even allows for the introduction of a wide range of foreign genes into NGT plants.
-The Commission’s proposal is irresponsible :
The absence of any detection method, labelling or monitoring requirements, and health or environmental risk assessment will prevent society from knowing anything about the possible risks carried by these new technologies in the fields of farmers, in the surrounding environment and in the food chain.
-The GM-free sector will suffer economic consequences :
In the absence of any detection method and monitoring, it will be difficult for deregulated NGT plants to stay separated from the organic and GM-free food sectors, and the burden may fall upon these sectors to stay GM-free.
-This proposal means a power grab by the European Commission :
The Commission in this proposal grants itself too much power, rendering EU member states unable to intervene or take their own decisions. Indeed, the Commission claims the right to change the ‘criteria of equivalence’ on its own, without involvement of the other institutions. This violates Art. 290 of the TFEU, as the Commission is not allowed to change “essential parts” of any law on its own.
You are kindly invited to attend a Q&A session by zoom with the author of the analysis, Attorney Blanche Magarinos-Rey :
- Date & time : 8 November 2023, 9.30-10.15am
- Zoom link : https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86705654910?pwd=Smxpbkdwb0V6Q0NadVRhd0duUWpzdz09
Meeting ID : 867 0565 4910
Passcode : 579701
Please register in advance by sending an email to : email@example.com
For more information contact :
Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory researcher : firstname.lastname@example.org, phone : +32 (0) 466 294420