No majority in favour of #geneticengineering deregulation in the vote of the EU agriculture ministers. The attempt to establish genetic engineering in a fast-track procedure has failed! This is a clear signal that the far-reaching deregulation plans of the Spanish Council Presidency, which are one-sidedly in favour of the genetic engineering lobby, are not acceptable. However, it is expected that Spain will do everything in its power to achieve a majority vote in favour of deregulation before Christmas.
Photo WIX Galery
According to a press release from VLOG (Association for Food without Genetic Engineering), the Spanish EU Council Presidency failed in its attempt to gain a sufficient majority of member states in favour of deregulating genetic engineering in a rush job. This at least means a brief pause for breath in the debate. It is now important for Germany to convince other EU countries that coexistence, transparency and labelling are essential, even for new genetic engineering, says VLOG Managing Director Alexander Hissting. "The supporters of deregulation will very quickly continue to exert pressure and try to organise a majority after all. Today's vote is at least a brief respite for consumers, organic and 'Ohne Gentechnik' - but nothing more. A lot of persuasion is still needed at all levels!"
Clear position required from the German federal government
Jan Plagge, President of Bioland and IFOAM EU, warns: "We know that the cow is far from off the ice. Although Cem Özdemir abstained today, what we need is a clear position from the entire German government. Above all, the Federal Chancellor must keep the promise he made during the election campaign: the precautionary principle must also apply without restriction to the new genetic engineering techniques. We must now continue to ensure that coexistence, risk assessment and labelling are guaranteed at all levels."
Plagge emphasises that organic farming must remain an important alternative to genetically modified food. "It has never been wise to back just one horse. Consumers want to continue to decide whether or not they want GMOs on their plates. In addition to freedom of choice, which is at stake, there is also the threat of price increases, as a food trade association recently warned." The increased effort required to maintain freedom from genetic engineering and the already critical patents on "new genetic engineering" plants will lead to additional costs, which will ultimately be reflected at the till, explains Plagge. "The decisions made at EU level on the new genetic engineering techniques will have an impact on almost 500 million people. Consideration must not only be given to a few who are pursuing the common good rather than their own profit."
Germany's abstention despite a clear statement in the coalition agreement
Although Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir made it clear before the vote in Brussels that the current plan would pose an existential threat to the billion-euro organic and 'non-GMO' markets, he only abstained from the vote due to the FDP's stance, which is considered a 'no' vote for a qualified majority. However, according to insiders, Spain, which holds the Council Presidency until the end of the year, wants to use every means at its disposal to try and persuade the EU member states to adopt a pro-genetic engineering deregulation course before Christmas before the end of its term of office. A majority vote in favour of deregulation would be a very bad signal, even if it would not yet be a final decision. Further votes in the European Parliament are due in January, followed by further votes between the Commission, Council and Parliament. At the very end, there would be another final vote by the member states.
We need real freedom of choice across the entire food chain
Cem Özdemir said in Brussels: "Those who want to farm GMO-free must also be able to do so in the future. We need genuine freedom of choice along the entire food chain. To achieve this, we need rules for coexistence so that a functioning market worth billions is not destroyed. People want to know which products they are buying. I want consumers to be able to make their own decisions. They don't need advice from anyone."
Companies in the food trade have also spoken out very clearly in favour of transparency in the interests of consumers. Many farmers earn good money with non-GMO products - this must also be possible in the future." With a view to the further process, the Minister added: "The fact that there was no necessary majority of Member States in the Council today is therefore also a clear mandate to take further action on the crucial points."
Author: Karin Heinze