NFU Frustrated Over Europe's GM Vote15 April 2011
UK - The National Farmers Union (NFU) has expressed its frustration after MEPs backed a proposal that would allow member states to ignore EU scientific advice and ban the cultivation of GM crops at a national level.
Environment Committee MEPs said member states should be allowed to disregard the EU's current authorisation procedure – where the European Food Safety Authority makes the decision on GM safety – and make their own scientific assessment.
Under their proposal, countries would be able to use environmental grounds, such as pesticide resistance or invasiveness of crops, to bring in national bans – even if EFSA had already deemed concerns unfounded.
The vote was meant to toughen up European Commission proposals to allow member states to restrict or ban the cultivation of GM crops. But Dr Helen Ferrier, the NFU's Chief Scientific Advisor, said the MEPs were ignoring sound science and jeopardising food security.
Dr Ferrier said: "The European GM authorisation procedure is already the strictest and most highly scrutinised in the world. So the idea that member states would need to do their own scientific assessment seems to be less for scientific and more for political reasons.
"We urge MEPs to have a sensible GM debate in Europe based on sound science. We have a huge global challenge to feed a population that is due to hit nine billion by 2050 while impacting less on the environment and tackling climate change.
"To achieve this we will need every single weapon in our armoury – and that includes GM crops that have been adapted to cope in dry conditions, need fewer pesticides or offer nutritional benefits.
"Of course there needs to be a strong legal framework for approvals and effective co-existence measures to allow GM and non-GM systems to operate successfully together but these must be proportional to the need so that growers can retain their markets, and be based on the science.
"We will continue to work with MEPs in Brussels to get this point across before the entire European Parliament votes on the proposals in June," concluded Dr Ferrier.
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