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MEPs Greenlight Release of Genetically Modified Crops




With a slim majority of 307 votes in favour, 263 against and 41 abstentions, MEPs voted to authorize food crops that have been genetically modified using new techniques. 

Despite some minor damage control measures, such as the adoption of labelling for plants and products that have been genetically modified using new genomic techniques, traceability requirements, and safeguard clauses, the overall outcome was disappointing, said Left MEPs.

A majority believes that safety assessments are no longer necessary for new GMO crops. "Safety assessments are crucial to exclude the risks of GMO crops for nature and our health. It is very worrying that GMO crops could end up in our environment and on our plates without safety assessments," said Left MEP and co-negotiator Anja Hazekamp (Party for the Animals, Netherlands) in response to the vote.

Freedom of Choice
However, the Parliament insists that the labels of GMO food must include the indication "new genomic techniques." A proposal to this effect was successfully adopted. "Consumer choice is important. Research clearly shows that people want to know if they are getting GMO food on their plate; they want the choice to opt in or out. This freedom of choice can only be achieved through labeling," said Anja Hazekamp.

For organic food producers, freedom of choice is also crucial. However, the current proposal does not guarantee that organic farmers can remain GMO-free. “No measures are taken to prevent organic crops from being mixed with GMO crops in the field. Therefore, a GMO-free choice further down the food chain becomes very difficult," said Hazekamp. 

What's Next?
Now that the European Parliament has voted to release new GMO food, the stance taken by national EU ministers is crucial. Only European agriculture ministers can ensure that safety assessments remain mandatory. The question of whether there will indeed be a label on GMO food also depends on the stance taken by the Ministers.

Photo by James Wainscoat on Unsplash


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