For immediate release Monday 23rd July 2003
GeneWatch UK response to publication of coexistence guidelines
The European Commission has published its recommendations on how GM farming should be controlled to avoid contamination of non-GM and organic crops (1). Rather than introduce laws that would protect organic produce from contamination, the Commission is recommending that 0.9% contamination be allowed, the level at which labelling is required (2). GM is not allowed to be used in organic systems and organic producers have been working at a 0.1% level the limit of detection but this level is not yet fixed in European rules.
"Brussels bureaucrats have decided to protect the interests of the biotechnology industry rather than the organic food producers. They could just as easily have introduced a zero threshold for organic food but have ignored this option," said Dr Sue Mayer, Director of GeneWatch UK. "This will fuel the GM fire. All the evidence suggests that people think organic food should be non-GM and that means zero contamination."
"Organic farmers may not be able to sell their produce and face considerable losses," she added. "This is an incomprehensible decision by the Commission."
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For further information contact:
Dr Sue Mayer on 01298 871898 (office); 07930 308807 (mobile).
Notes to editors:
- Draft Commission recommendation on guidelines for the development of national strategies and best practices to ensure the co-existence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming. C(2003). See http://europa.eu.int/rapid/start/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt=gt&doc=IP/03/1096|0|RAPID&lg=EN;
- European laws to be agreed soon have specified a threshold of 0.9% GM contamination before labelling is required. Organic standards say GM must not be used but have not established a threshold yet. The limit of detection is 0.1% and would equate with a requirement that GM is not used.