Von der Leyen sparks fury in EU over new law threatening organic farmers

Farmers struggle as France is hit by droughts

The European Commission has proposed encouraging genetic biotechnology for more resilient and sustainable seeds.

However, NGOs and left-wing MEPs are warning of risks associated with the “deregulation” of these “new GMOs”.

The proposal focuses on New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) that modify plants’ genetic material without introducing genes from different species.

The Commission believes NGTs can develop climate-adapted and productive crops. Stringent GMO regulations are seen as unsuitable for NGTs.

Under the proposal, GMO regulations would not apply to NGT-derived seeds and products with natural modifications. Non-equivalent varieties would remain under GMO rules, with adjustments. Discussions are ongoing among Member States and MEPs.

Read more: Farmers can grow baked beans in UK for first time ‘thanks to climate change’

Some left-wing MEPs oppose deregulation, while NGOs express concerns about the impact on biodiversity. The proposal faces debate over labelling and the need for independent assessments.

The future of NGTs in the EU is uncertain as discussions continue.

French NGO POLLINIS warned the proposal removes the labelling and traceability requirements and most of the environmental risk assessment procedures currently in force for all GMOs at European level.

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As a result, they say, most GMOs developed using genome-editing techniques other than transgenesis (which involves the insertion of exogenous DNA) will be able to be authorised following a simple notification procedure.

‌Nicolas Laarman, General Delegate of POLLINIS, said: “After decades of successfully protecting its agriculture and food from GMOs, Europe has given in to the agrochemical lobby. This draft law proposes nothing less than to place on the market GMOs obtained by genome-editing techniques with unknown effects on the environment, without any risk assessment, and without informing consumers.”

He added: “Authorising these GMOs means risking the forced contamination of non-GMO crops, which would nullify the efforts of organic farmers and farmers practising agro-ecological farming that respects pollinators and ecosystem balances – two production systems that are currently the most promising ways of curbing the extinction of pollinators and biodiversity caused by the massive use of chemical pesticides.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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