The EU Parliament unanimously rejects Commission’s ideas about ‘seeds’

Harvesting corn in France. (EP Audiovisual Services).

Harvesting corn in France. (EP Audiovisual Services).

Yesterday the European Parliament rejected by 650 votes to 15 the new Regulation on seeds for sowing. The draft law was introduced in the legislative by EU Commissioner Dacian Cioloș. Undeniably, the extent of the negative vote is an indication that ‘something is rotten in the state’ of Berlaymont. The Romanian Commissioner even refused to bring the slightest change to the unacceptable text, aimed, in the face of it, at ‘regulating’ the huge and complex EU seeds for sowing market. Cioloș insisted on the initial text, despite the efforts of MEPs to amend it. This denial may indicate that he couldn’t diverge form the initial version, due to obligations he had possibly undertaken.

Almost all legislators voiced concerns that “it would give the Commission too much power and leave EU countries without any leeway to tailor the new rules to their needs”. Following the Commission’s refusal to withdraw its draft text and table an improved one, Parliament closed the first reading and voted overwhelmingly against it.

The seeds of our lives

Now, according to the European Treaty, the Parliament will send its position to the Council the other EU legislative body. If the Council supports Parliament’s rejection, then the legislation process will end. “Alternatively, the Council could amend the original Commission’s proposal. If it does so, then Parliament could either reject the Council’s amendments at the second reading – and thus kill the legislative proposal for good – or it could start negotiations with the Council on the final wording of the new seed legislation”.

“Today’s vote shows the depth of Parliament’s dissatisfaction with the Commission’s proposal, which failed to meets its core objectives such as simplifying the rules and promoting innovation. It also prompted many concerns among MEPs, for instance about merging 12 directives into a single directly-applicable regulation with no leeway for member states to tailor new rules to their needs”, said Agriculture Committee chair Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT).

Who eyes our seeds?

Production, reproduction and the distribution of seeds for sowing are a very old, complex and far reaching activities, touching the very existence and development of humanity. To a large extent, they determine  the productivity of the cultivation of cereals and oil seeds. Those two basic agricultural products constitute the main inputs of the entire food production chain. Apart from their use for human consumption they also represent the basic input in the animal products sector.

During the last twenty years, the seed production sector has been the target of the all genetic engineering firms and research on both sides of the Atlantic. The basic characteristic of all genetically engineered seeds for sowing is that they cannot be reproduced by the farmers. Year after year cereal and oil seeds cultivators, have to buy their seeds for sowing from the firm which produces them. In this way, the GMOs producing firms keep the key of this highly critical sector for the food safety of entire continents. GMOs seeds played a crucial role in Cioloș’s new draft Regulation.

They want to patent our food

It openly favoured the ‘patenting’ of seeds for sowing. Consequently, the production and reproduction firms would become a kind of controllers of the world’s basic food production. In reality, facilitating the patenting of seeds for sowing will create a whole sector of rentiers who will cut the cream of the food chain and keep it for themselves. The entire agricultural community of the European Union is opposing this prospect but the Commission appeared to support.

“As MEPs, who co-legislate with the Council, we want to take our full responsibility for this legislation. For this reason we cannot decide in a hasty manner on this proposal, which is crucial for many growers’ associations, companies and citizens. The high number of ‘delegated acts’ would give Commission excessively wide powers over certain issues in areas which, due to their sensitivity, should be defined in the legal text”, explained rapporteur Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (EPP, IT).

Obviously, the European Parliament doesn’t trust the Romanian Commissioner Dacian Cioloș, with such an extensive delegation of power, in this crucial and sensitive sector. Who would?

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