Open letter from GM-free Cymru

www.feedingtheworldconference.org

An open letter from GM Free Cymru

Real concerns over imminent GM maize approvals

Commissioner Stavros Dimas
Environment Commissioner
European Commission

22nd January 2008

Dear Mr Dimas
Commission betrayal re: Environment Council GMO conclusions

We have noted from the press coverage over the last couple of days that the Commission proposes approval for two GM maize varieties –Bt11 and 1507 — and is pushing for the removal of the MON810 bans imposed by the Governments of France, Greece and Hungary. It appears that you are pressing ahead with these proposals at an accelerated pace, and are setting in motion the legal procedures required to force nation states with new and valid scientifically-based concerns about these GM varieties to accept the highly questionable advice of EFSA and to bow to the will of the Commission.

This is a profoundly anti-democratic act on the part of the Commission, and it is also cynical. We remind you that on 4th December 2008 the Environment Ministers of the nation states came to a series of far-reaching conclusions regarding the GM approvals process; and in taking this action you are side-lining or dismissing these conclusions, and acting as if the December 4th Meeting had never happened. This is, to put it mildly, disrespectful and insulting — and shows that in the Commission we have an executive that has forgotten its duty to act in accordance with the wishes of the elected governments of the European Union.

When an executive seeks to usurp the authority of the member states and the European Parliament, that is a very serious matter indeed, and leads us to ask whether the EC, as presently constituted, is now to be considered trustworthy or fit for purpose.

We are quite certain that in taking this action, the Commission is minded to do the bidding of the US Government, the WTO and the biotechnology corporations — and in so doing it is prepared to place at risk the safety of European consumers and the integrity of the European environment.

May we remind you that in 2006, at a time when EFSA was being widely criticised for excessive secrecy, for bad science and for “facilitating the approvals process” you made certain very specific commitments to the reform of the approvals system? (1) May we also remind you that no reforms have subsequently been put in place?

May we further remind you of some of the conclusions of the 4th December meeting of Environment Ministers?

1. There was a re-statement of the precautionary principle as a guiding principle in GMO assessments, on the basis that it has been inadequately used — or disregarded — in past decisions.

2. There was a commitment to a strengthening of the environmental impact assessment for GMOs and a strengthening of monitoring requirements.

3. There was a commitment that pesticide-producing GM crops (such as Bt11, 1507 and MON810) should be treated (in the assessment and approval process) in the same way as chemical pesticides.

4. Member states, competent authorities and EFSA were assured that they would from now on have the right to make specific assessments of the impacts of GMOs in specific geographical areas / ecological niches.

5. Responding to the new research on damaging health effects associated with GM varieties, Ministers demanded that if new information becomes available with regard to the risk of the GMOs to human health, the competent authority must prepare an assessment report and indicate how the conditions of the consent should be revised or the consent terminated.

6. For the first time, Ministers specified a role for independent scientists, scientific organizations and NGOs in the GMO assessment process. An important role was accepted for organizations expert in ecological issues. Ministers also asked for effective coordination and cooperation between scientists.

7. For the first time, socio-economic effects arising from the cultivation and / or marketing of GMOs must now be considered as relevant to the assessment process.

8. It was implicit in the drafted document that EFSA’a powers were to be substantially reduced, and EFSA was instructed to revise its GMO assessment procedures by 2010. Henceforth there was a commitment to a key role for member states, including states other than the applicant state.

9. There must now be greater protection from GMOs for special areas — National Parks and other protected or designated areas. There was an acceptance that GM Free Zones coinciding with these protected areas could be declared and would be respected by the EC as valid.

10. The Ministers insisted on a reform of the secretive and corrupt assessment process that has until now been operated by EFSA. Member States and the Commission must henceforth ensure that systematic and independent research is conducted on the potential risks involved in the marketing and growing of GMOs. The necessary resources must be secured for such research by the Community and Member States. Most importantly, independent researchers must be given access to all relevant dossier material, while respecting intellectual property rights. Finally, Member States and the Commission must collect and exchange information on this research.

11. Finally, regions and local communities will henceforth have the right to declare GM-Free zones.

There were other conclusions as well, but those itemised here are the key ones which have a bearing on your proposed actions. It is absolutely clear that all eleven of these conclusions are now being flouted by the EC in a manner that is both precipitate and arrogant. We urge you therefore to withdraw these proposals immediately, and to accord due respect to the wishes of those whom you were appointed to serve.

We look forward to receiving your confirmation that you will now act as requested in this letter.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Brian John
GM Free Cymru

====================

NOTES

(1) Statement by Commissioner Dimas at the Vienna conference on “co-existence” in April 2006: “EFSA cannot deliver a sound scientific opinion on GMOs; they only examine short term effects and they do not take into account the opinions of member states; there is [also] the question of whether scientific opinions relied solely on information supplied by companies which produce GMOs.”

Stavros Dimas

Member of the European Commission, responsible for Environment
“Co-existence of genetically modified, conventional and organic crops: Freedom of choice”

Conference on GMO co-existence
Vienna, 05 April 2006
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/06/224&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Commission proposes practical improvements to the way the European GMO legislative framework is implemented

European Commission press release, Brussels, 12 April 2006.
1. Commission proposes practical improvements to the way the European GMO legislative framework is implemented, press release IP/06/498, Brussels, 12 April 2006
2. http://www.bmgf.gv.at/cms/site/detail.htm?thema=CH0255&doc=CMS1141813863564
3. http://www.efsa.eu.int/science/gmo/gmo_opinions/1439_en.html

Today the European Commission gave its support to an approach proposed by Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou and Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas on further steps to improve the scientific consistency and transparency for Decisions on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The measures proposed aim to bring about practical improvements which will reassure Member States, stakeholders and the general public that Community decisions are based on high quality scientific assessments which deliver a high level of protection of human health and the environment. These improvements will be made within the existing legal framework, in compliance with EC and WTO law, and avoiding any undue delays in authorisation procedures.

In light of recent practical experience acquired with the placing on the market of GMOs, the Commission has decided that practical improvements could be made to the system to improve the scientific consistency and transparency for Decisions on GMOs and develop consensus between all interested parties. These improvements will be made within the existing legal framework, in compliance with EC and WTO law, and avoiding any undue delays in authorisation procedures.

(2) http://www.foeeurope.org/press/2009/Jan21_EC_pushes_for_new_GM_crops_in_Europe.html

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