Industry pans proposed EU restriction of GMOs

The trade body EuropaBio – as well as corporates such as Monsanto – has warned that proposed GMO rules could hamper investment.

EuropaBio, the industry association that represents the biotech industry, has expressed its disappointment at the proposed reversal of existing EU rules on genetically modified organism (GMO) production in member states.

Under the new proposals, EU member states would be allowed to restrict or prohibit GMO production in some or all of its territory for non-scientific reasons. EuropaBio called the proposal ‘nationalisation’ of policy concerning GM crop cultivation.

“To renationalise a common EU policy, based on non-objective grounds, is a negative precedent and contrary to the spirit of the single market,” said André Goig, Chair of EuropaBio. “[It] sends a negative signal for innovative industries considering whether or not to operate in Europe,” added Goig.

EuropaBio also expressed concerns that Europe is out of step with GM innovation worldwide. “After more than 15 years of large-scale GMO cultivation in many countries globally, existing evidence has shown that GM crops are at least as safe as their conventional counterparts.”

Monsanto added to industry reaction, saying the proposals “completely eliminate the incentive for companies like Monsanto to invest in the [European] GM market. Why would [a company] invest funds and time into promoting a product that could be banned in a flash?” said a spokesperson. The firm also indicated that the effects of the proposals weren’t being adequately clarified. “[Some commentators] are saying that these proposals are opening up the market – they are doing the exact opposite.”

DuPont Pioneer, the GM Crop arm of DuPont de Nemours, expressed its own concerns. “It’s a pity – we are discussing the same issue after 20 years,” said a DuPont Pioneer spokesperson. “We have a product in the pipeline for Europe – Herculex I, a maize crop resistant to a pest. We applied to produce this in Europe in 2001, but have waited 13 years for clearance. We have seven positive safety opinions from the European Food Safety Authority, but we are still waiting.”

The Environment Council of the European Union indicated in a statement that these proposals had been on the table for four years owing to objections from member states, stopping them from progressing any earlier.

The proposals are expected to come into force some time next year.