GM opposition day/conferences/taxing GM farmers/GM free regions (30/11/2005)


CHECK OUT: the *GM Opposition Day* project - 2006: http://altercampagne.free.fr/

1.Denmark to tax farmers of GM crops
2.Orientation debate on GMOs – 2 December
4.Conference - Safeguarding Sustainable European Agriculture - proceedings available

1.Denmark to tax farmers of GM crops
New Scientist Print Edition, issue 2528, 03 December 2005, page 5

DEPENDING on your point of view, it's either a neat ruse to help keep genetically modified crops out of Europe, or an unfair barrier to farmers who want to benefit from GM technology.

Denmark last week became the first country in Europe to tax farmers who grow GM crops. The money collected, around ¬13 per hectare, will be used to compensate organic or conventional farmers who can't sell produce at its usual price because of contamination from a GM farm nearby. Crops with a GM content above 0.9 per cent cannot be labelled GM free.

"What's good is that the GM farmers are paying, otherwise they'd have no incentive to prevent contamination happening," says Gundula Azeez of the Soil Association, which represents organic farmers in the UK. "It's based on the polluter-pays principle." The biotech industry, meanwhile, regards the tax as arbitrary and unfair.

The European Commission authorised the scheme on 23 November, and other countries are considering similar measures. Don't expect the Danish fund to be bursting with cash though: like all European countries except Spain, it has no GM farmers yet.

[an article explaining concerns about the Danish law can be found in FoE's Biotech mailout July 2004:

2.Copenhagen/Bruxelles 28th November 2005
Re : Orientation debate on GMOs – 2 December Environment Council

Dear Environment Minister Connie Hedegaard,

The recent authorisations of certain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by the European Commission have stirred intense controversy across Europe and are seen as a blatant example of the EU democratic deficit. On 2 December you will have the rare opportunity to demand the review of a decision-making process which is widely criticised for its lack of democracy, transparency, and its insufficient risk evaluation.

Opinion polls consistently show that 70 - 80% of EU citizens reject the use of GMOs in food and agriculture. Genetic engineering has not fulfilled any of its promises : it has not brought any significant agronomic benefit to North American farmers, who are also confronted with a loss of export markets. 73% of GM crops are herbicide tolerant, which has already led to an increase of 30 million kilograms of pesticide from 1996 to 2003 in the US . Weed resistance is also a growing concern among farmers.

Cultivation of GMOs in Europe would create contamination problems and trigger additional economic costs for conventional and organic farmers. There is no European legislation which protects farmers from contamination and sets up a liability regime for economic loss. 164 regions across Europe have already declared themselves GM-free zones in order to protect their agriculture models. The right to ban GMOs, presently contested by the Commission, should also be recognised at the EU level.

Above all, the latest scientific research – including the recent publication on GM peas – confirms that genetic engineering leads to unexpected and detrimental effects to health and the environment, such as unpredictable changes in protein structures and decrease in biodiversity, but these effects are not taken into account by the current risk evaluation process. There is still no independent evaluation of GMOs in the EU. We urge you to demand immediate measures to solve the following problems:

Lack of democracy : Comitology procedures used to decide on GMOs are characterized by a lack of transparency and openness. They leave all the power to the Commission, which can authorise GMOs while ignoring the views of citizens and even of a majority of Member States. In addition, the Commission has abused its power by breaking several times its own statement to "act in such a way as to avoid going against any predominant position which might emerge within the Council against the appropriateness of an implementing measure" (Declarations 1999/C 203/01 on Council Decision 1999/468/EC). Member States should demand that the Commission respect its commitment to follow predominant positions expressed in the Council. Morevoer, stakeholders involvement in preparing Committee meetings as well as opening the meetings to observers would improve the transparency.

Lack of transparency : GMOs are only evaluated by unaccountable scientific committees on the basis of the applicant company’s own data. Most of this data is classified as "business confidential information", thus preventing the public and independent scientists from scrutinising the risk evaluation process. All data related to risk assessment should be systematically and without delay accessible to the public.

Poor risk assessment : The legal requirements of the EU legislation on risk evaluation or post-market monitoring of GMOs (Directive 2001/18/EC) are not respected by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Even when the company’s data show potential health effects, the EFSA has never commissioned further investigations. The EFSA also fails to meet its legal obligations to consider long-term effects of GMOs and to take into account the concerns Member States. Furthermore it has been criticised for its lack of independence from the industry. The implementation of the risk assessment requirements should be reviewed and the work of the EFSA should be re-organised in order to ensure transparency, the possibility of independent evaluation of GMOs, and the independence of its scientists from vested interests.

The traceability system do not trace. The traceability regulation (regulation 1830/2003) has proved that:

(1) EU is totally unable to control whether unauthorised GMOs arrive in EU. EU still has no means to test for unauthorised GMOs. The only way EU can discover import of unauthorised GMO, is if the exporting country choose to inform EU about it.

(2) EU is totally unable to trace any approved GMO that has been ground before arriving in EU. All GMO-corn imported to Europe arrive ground as corn-gluten. Most of the GMO-soy arriving in EU (all the RR-soy arriving in Denmark) arrives ground as soy-meal. So it is by far the majority of the GMO imported in EU (100% of the GMO imported in DK) that cannot be traced).

The agriculture council demanded on 26th April 2005 that the commission establish a database that contains test-methods and reference samples for all GMOs both approved and unapproved. The data-base still do not exist. The council must now make it a condition for resuming GMO-approvals that EU trade partners provide the test-methods and reference samples required to complete the database. To establish traceability of already approved GMOs commission and council must make the required changes to regulation 1830/2003 (specifically article 5).

The new centralised procedure (Regulation 1829/2003), through which most applications are now going to be processed, will give an even bigger role to the discredited EFSA and further marginalise Member States involvement and their concerns. This centralised procedure does not even guarantee that the more detailed requirements of Directive 2001/18/EC regarding risk evaluation, risk management, information to the public and post-market monitoring, be respected. The Council should demand immediate measures to guarantee that the requirements of Directive 2001/18/EC be strictly respected by all GMO sectoral legislation.

Greenpeace urges you to demand a suspension of all GMO authorisations for import, processing, use for food, feed or cultivation of GM crops until the EU evaluation and decision-making process is reviewed and the identified problems are solved.

Last but not least, GMOs will not contribute to solving the hunger problem. They will only cause the further dependence of small farmers on agri-business multinationals. Hunger is not merely a production problem, it is a political and economic problem, linked to lack of access to food or to the means of producing it. Furthermore, after years of research, genetic engineering has failed to provide any agronomic contribution to fighting malnutrition, in contrast to other research programmes.

Encouraging more research into GMOs in agriculture will divert funding away from research which is proven to provide real solutions to malnutrition. Public funding should be oriented towards sectors of biotechnology which have shown real potential (such as Marker Assisted Breeding) or towards real sustainable agricultural solutions, which often desperately lack funding.

The world does not need GMOs. European agriculture will be further jeopardised by the use of GMOs. Not only has the Commission completely failed in its states goal to "raise consumers’ confidence in GM products", it has undermined the credibility of the EU decision-making process by ignoring citizens, regions and Member States concerns. The Council should remind the Commission that the primary goal of EU legislation on GMOs is to protect consumers and the environment, not to push a crude and outdated technology that is massively rejected by the public.

It is time for the EU to make the right choice for its environment, farmers and consumers, to ensure an independent and transparent risk assessment of GMOs and to stop using biased and un-democratic authorisation procedures, in order to allow European agriculture to be competitive and sustainable, and to respond to the wishes of citizens.

Yours sincerely,
Dan Belusa
Bredgade 20, baghuset 4. sal,
DK – 1260 Copenhagen K
Tel.: +45 3393 8660
Eric Gall
Genetic Engineering Policy Director
Greenpeace European Unit
Belliardstraat 199 rue Belliard, 1040 Brussels
Tel:+32 2 274 19 00 (reception); +32 2 274 19 06 (direct);
+32 496 16 15 82 (mobile); +32 2 274 19 10 (fax)

3.Announcement and Call for Participation:


On behalf of GENET, the Assembly of European Regions and the Foundation on Future Farming it is our pleasure to invite you to the second European Conference on GMO-free Regions, biodiversity and rural development in Berlin, 14 - 15 January 2006. Please find attached the first invitation and outline of the conference. The programme is still under construction and we are keen to incorporate your feedback and suggestions over the next two weeks.

We believe that the 2nd GMO free Regions conference comes at a crucial moment for the further political development within the European Union:

Co-existence will be high on the EU agenda in the first half of 2006 and far reaching decisions will be made also with regard to the potential approval of additional GM varieties for cultivation.

Please note that we are still seeking additional co-sponsors for the event.

As we want to show the breadth and diversity of the GMO-free movement, co-sponsorship of this conference would be an important political sign you and your organisation, institution or regional authority should consider, even if the possible financial contribution was only small.

Please do forward this invitation to everybody you believe should participate and check out our new conference web-site for further news and organising details, but also to complete the information available there on the situation in your country: www.gmo-free-regions.org

Who should attend?

- Everybody interested and active in the field

- Active GMO free farmers and food producers

- Representatives of GMO free regions and communities

- Civil servants and politicians working on regional development and protected areas

- Scientists, legal and economic experts on the issue

- Farmers, NGOs and institutions planning to establish GMO free Regions

What to expect?

- Introductions and latest information on the issue

- Presentations of cases and concepts of GMO free Regions in Europe

- Intensive, well prepared workshops on key issues

- Discussion of strategies and joint demands

- Contacts and opportunities for bilateral, trans-regional and international co-operation

What to contribute?

We are looking for active participation before and during the conference.

Preparatory papers and information will be published on the web-site and in the documentation. We are also open to facilitate additional workshops upon the participants requests.

We are especially keen on

- Updates on the situation in your region and country (see our web-site "GMO free regions by country")

- Information on upcoming events and developments in your country

- Papers and materials you have produced on the issue

- Offers to participate in the preparation of specific workshops (including additional issues where needed)

- Contributions to the special conference journal and its distribution

- Help with translation of important documents

- Pictures, Videos and other media



Speakers will include high ranking representatives of the EU institutions, national and regional governments, representatives of companies, initiatives and organisations active in the field, scientists, lawyers and other experts on specific issues. The final speakers list is still under construction and subject to confirmation. We are still open to suggestions.


The conference language will be English. Simultaneous interpretation will be available for the plenary sessions (hopefully for E, D, F, I).


for more details see

4.Conference - Safeguarding Sustainable European Agriculture

Friends of the Earth Europe is very happy to inform you that the proceedings of the Conference entitled 'Safeguarding Sustainable European Agriculture: Coexistence, GMO Free Zones and the Promotion of Quality Food Produce in Europe' are now available at:

All presentations and debates as well as a participants list are included.

The Conference was organised in May 2005 by the Assembly of European Regions and Friends of the Earth Europe. The Conference was hosted by Mr Janusz Wojciechowski, MEP, with the strong support of the Regions of Upper Austria and Tuscany.

Over 250 participants attended the conference, including members of the European Parliament, representatives of the European Parliament, representatives from European regions, the European Commission, EU member states, farmers' organisations and environmental NGOs.

The conference focussed on the right of EU regions to be GMO-free and on the issues surrounding coexistence. Regional Ministers and MEPs called for a bigger say as to whether GM crops are grown commercially in their region, and the right to develop quality food products and agriculture. The conference also heard how EU level legislation on coexistence with a strong regional component is necessary, contrary to the National measures that the Commission is currently proposing as adequate.

We wish you fruitful reading!

Best regards,
Carmen Olmedo
Friends of the Earth Europe

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