Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England, has written a letter urging the UK government to reject a flawed EU proposal which would give biotech industries a say on whether governments can ban the cultivation of GMO crops in their countries.
The proposal, if adopted tomorrow by Environment Ministers, will force Member States who wish to ban GMOs to request authorisation, via the European Commission, from biotech companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta. If rejected by industry, governments can still implement a ban, but the reasons permitted for doing so are legally weak and unclear.
Worryingly, a ban put in place in defiance of industry’s wishes may not be legally strong enough under the current proposal to withhold challenges from the WTO and from other countries through international trade agreements.
In addition, the proposal diminishes the need for rigorous scrutiny of the health and environmental risks associated with GMOs, riding roughshod over the precautionary principle.
Commenting on the proposal, Keith said: ‘In the absence of an EU-wide moratorium on GMOs, which is what the Greens call for, we need robust rules to defend individual countries who want to ban GMOs – this is far from what we have on the table at present.’
‘I urge the UK government to reject this proposal outright, unless they are able to amend the text in a number of key ways which would bring it more into alignment with the position of the European Parliament, adopted in 2011. One essential change would be that any wording that gives biotech companies a role in the decision to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMO crops must be deleted.’
‘Surely the UK government can’t agree with ceding vital decision-making power to multi-nationals when it comes to the food we grow and eat? Even taking into account the government’s misguided pro-GMO stance, this current proposal weakens the power of our government to make its own decisions and must be rejected’