MEPs vote for GMO traceability amid deregulation process

Posted: 7 February 2024 | | No comments yet

EU politicians today passed a draft report which could see some crops produced via “new genomic techniques” separated from the current EU regulation.

The EU parliament in Strasbourg

The legislative process that could cause seismic change to the way GMO foods are regulated in the EU has moved a step closer to its endgame today, after the EU Parliament held a plenary vote on the proposed changes to the EU’s GMO regulations.

Swedish MEP Jessica Polfjärd’s draft report was passed by the European Parliament today with 307 votes in favour, 41 abstentions and 263 against.

Directly after the vote, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides said she welcomed the result.

“Our farmers need the best tools available to support their production and our food security.

“I welcome today’s Plenary vote on the position on New Genomic Techniques and look forward to the Council’s position and the start of trilogues,” she wrote on X.

However, some crucial amendments were made to the report on traceability and labelling, which the European Non-GMO Industry Association (ENGA) claims could protect the right of businesses and consumers to “continue to have the right to know what is in their value chains and their food”, should the Parliament’s position become law.

The GMO battle enters the European theatre

COPA-COGECA (the biggest agricultural interest group in the EU) welcomed the decision. “This vote is seen by the EU farming community as a new step in the right direction. NGTs are among the practical solutions that can help our agriculture reconcile production and adaptation to climate change while maintaining cutting-edge research in the EU,” the group said in a statement.

“The report approved today in Plenary backs up the structure proposed by the European Commission with a two-step approach on NGT plants. Category 1 NGT plants are conventional-like and must follow the rules as conventional seed breeding while Category 2 would still have to follow stricter requirements. For Copa and Cogeca, this balanced approach is the right one.”

This optimism was not shared by all. “A majority of MEPs voted in favor of weakening biosafety requirements for NGTs but also to maintain traceability of NGTs all along the production and the possibility for national coexistence measures to protect organic agriculture”, said Jan Plagge, president of IFOAM Organics Europe, after the vote.

“Today’s vote by MEPs is full of contradiction as it acknowledges some major issues associated to NGTs deregulation but fails to provide concrete solutions and would leave farmers and breeders exposed to corporate takeover of genetic resources through patents.

“The Council of Ministers should not repeat the same mistakes of rushing these discussions and disregarding the lack of scientific basis to deregulate some of these novel genomic techniques pointed by the French food safety authority. National governments should first provide a legal solution to protect breeders and farmers from patents, and to protect the integrity of organic and conventional GMO-free production, before moving ahead with weakening biosafety requirements,” said Plagge.

This result does not mean a new EU law however. The European Council of Ministers is expected to declare a position, before trilogue negotiations between several institutions take place. This is nonetheless a big step towards the reregulation of some NGT-derived crops. There is plenty of road left to be travelled, but the direction now looks clear.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.