On 24 September, the European Commission published its “Inception Impact Assessment” in a first step to deregulate genetically engineered plants and food. Through its “Have your Say” tool, it invites citizens to comment on its plan, goals and assumptions to propose new legislation for new GMOs before October 22nd. Slow Food is inviting its network to contribute their views and remind the EU that its citizens do not want new GMOs in their fields nor on their plates.
“Through the EU Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission committed to accelerate the transition towards a truly sustainable food system. By exploring the re-opening of EU GMO rules, the Commission is falling into the trap of pursuing techno-fixes rather than investing in and promoting agroecological systems that benefit farmers, local communities, and the wider environment”, comments Marta Messa, director of Slow Food Europe.
EU citizens, experts, farmers, and civil society organizations have until 22 October to express their views on the European Commission’s plans, which representatives for the agri-chemical industry were quick to welcome. It is an important opportunity for their voices to be heard on the EU stage, on a topic that will have a direct impact on their daily lives. We must mobilize against this new generation of GMOs that risk making their way into nature and onto our plates, possibly untested and unlabeled – with irreversible consequences for biodiversity and our common food future.
Last April, the European Commission published a report in which it concluded that new GM techniques or “New Genomic Techniques” (NGT) such as CRISPR/Cas “could provide benefits for EU Society” including improving the sustainability of our food systems. It concludes that a new policy regulating new GMOs is needed. The Inception Impact Assessment outlines the issues the Commission sees with the current legislation, describes some possible policy options and objectives, as well as a pre-assessment of social, environmental, economic impacts, largely overstating potential benefits and minimizing the true risks of opening up the GMO rules. The EU Commission is looking to weaken the rules currently regulating GMOs which could mean that new GMOs would no longer need to be labelled or traceable throughout the food supply chain.
Francesco Sottile, agronomist and professor at the University of Palermo comments: “New (and old) GMOs are completely incompatible with agroecology. New GMOs are being requested by farmers who prefer to continue farming monoculture and refuse to adopt techniques that would allow improved resilience of lands and rural areas. The EU must turn its attention to helping farmers strengthen the alternatives to industrial farming, rather than wasting precious time and resources on new GMOs”.
Slow Food has published a policy brief reacting to the Commission’s report on NGT and elaborating its position about new GMOs, which calls for them to remain strictly regulated considering the risks they present to biodiversity, the threats they pose to small-scale farmers’ livelihoods, and the fact that they are incompatible with an agricultural system based on agroecology. Slow Food also sent a joint-response to the European Commission, alongside over 60 civil society organizations, detailing our concerns with their report. Overall, GM agriculture fosters the development of intensive monocultures, posing a growing threat to the survival of traditional seeds and rural communities themselves, who are increasingly deprived of their means of production and livelihoods. This is why we believe it is important for civil society to mobilize against the European Commission’s plan to deregulate their production, retail, and commercialization.