The Commission favours the cultivation of more GMOs in Europe

Press conference by Tonio Borg, Member of the European Commission in charge of Health, on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). He probably shows us, with both his hands, the future path for GMOs cultivation. (EC Audiovisual Services, 06/11/2013

Press conference by Tonio Borg, Member of the European Commission in charge of Health, on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). He probably shows us, with both his hands, the future path for GMOs cultivation. (EC Audiovisual Services, 06/11/2013

The delay in the process of negotiations for the conclusion of the EU-US trade agreement seems to have opened the opportunity to clarify some thorny matters between the two largest trading partners of the world. One of them is surely the cultivation on EU soil of Monsanto’s genetically modified ‘Pioneer 1507’ maize seed. Apart from the environmental and health issues around this affair, the basic economic characteristic of all genetically modified seeds for sowing is that farmers cannot keep a part of the crop to use it next year as seeds for sowing, nor it is possible to reproduce the genetically modified seeds with standard cultivation methods. Very simply, nobody else can reproduce those seeds, except Monsanto. Consequently, farmers would have to keep buying their seeds for sowing year after year from this US firm. In the long-term all production will depend on Monsanto.

In the case of Pioneer 1507 maize, imports have already been freed for human and animal feed uses, but the cultivation of it is always prohibited. This is what the Commission wants now to change – to release the possibility of this genetically modified maize cultivation on European soil. Naturally, this will be done with seeds imported from the US firm Monsanto, a world leader in this unnatural seed production. The EU has already authorised the cultivation on European soil of another GMO seed, the MON 810 maize, also a Monsanto product. According to the legislation in force, member states can either permit or ban the cultivation of GMOs on their territory.

One GMO cultivation freed

Eight Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg and Poland) adopted safeguard measures and prohibited the cultivation of the GM maize MON 810 within their borders. However, according to the Commission in 2012, MON 810 was cultivated in Spain (116,306 hectares), Portugal (9,278 hectares), Czech Republic (3,052 hectares), Romania (217 hectares) and Slovakia (189 hectares).

The story of ‘Pioneer 1507’ starts back in 2001, when Monsanto asked for a license to import this seed for sowing for cultivation on EU soil. After all those years of ‘no decision’, on 26 September 2013, the General Court issued a judgment in relation to the legal case T-164/10 by which it stresses that “the Commission failed to act under Directive 2001/18/EC by not submitting to the Council a proposal under Article 5(4) of the Council Decision 1999/468/EC”. This decision obliges the Commission to act accordingly.

In view of this EU Court decision, the Commission issued a Press release yesterday stating “This 2001 request falls under the “old” pre-Lisbon comitology procedure, which means that if the Council is not able to muster a qualified majority, either for or against the authorisation, then the Commission is obliged by law to grant the authorisation”.

Is it true?

Commissioner in charge of Health, Tonio Borg, said yesterday: “Duty bound to comply with the ruling of the Court, the Commission has decided today to send a draft decision of authorisation of the maize 1507 to the Council: in the coming months, ministers will be invited to take a position on this authorisation request”. He also explained that if the decision of the Council is positive, member states will be still able to ban the cultivation on their soil.

However the question is, if the Commission is obliged to introduce this case to the Council of Ministers with a positive recommendation. Understandably, the ruling of the European Court just asks the Commission to act. It doesn’t say what the content of the recommendation to the Council should be. Unfortunately, the responsible Commissioner takes one more step forward and says that if the Council is unable to decide either way, the EU’s executive arm is obliged to grant the licence, under the pre-Lisbon Treaty comitology procedure.

This may be another legal ‘saltus’ of the Commissioner. The obvious purpose of it may be to pave the way for the forthcoming continuation and positive conclusion of negotiations on the EU-US trade agreement. Imports of GMOs from the US for consumption and cultivation, has been a major issue between the two sides, with the EU half-heartedly trying to stop them, not always successfully.

The sure thing is that a license to cultivate this Pioneer 1507 seed on EU soil will also pave the way, for the use of more GMOs in Europe as a standard agricultural production method. In this way, the European food and animal feed production will be made dependant on Monsanto’s supplies of seeds for sowing in the decades to come.

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Comments

  1. zweep13@planet.nl says:

    I think they want to kill all life, incuding mankind, ….very slowly ..; that’s my only conclusion. I dare them to eat this corn and to drink round-up polluted water, and then we speak again in about a few years ( if they will live at that time.)

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