Friends of the Earth Europe
Brussels, October 17th, 2002 — The European Commission today announced that the process for commercial approvals of genetically modified food and crops in Europe is to be left to biotech companies and Member States.

But Member States attending today’s Council of Environment Ministers meeting in Luxemburg refused to reconsider the moratorium on commercial approvals after failing to agree legislation on labelling and traceability.

Any Member State now wanting to start a new commercial approval process, would have to do so under the new Deliberate Release Directive (which came into force today). This would take 10 to 14 months. Friends of the Earth called on Members States to introduce strict labelling and traceability rules during this period.

Friends of the Earth Europe GMO campaigner Geert Retsima said: “The fact that Ministers did not reach agreement on a tighter labelling regime today means consumers will have to wait longer before they have a genuine chance to avoid GM in their food. We urge Ministers to agree strict GM labelling rules as soon as possible. That will effectively establish a new moratorium because 70% of consumers have expressed a desire to avoid GM in their diet. Even with tough labelling rules, major problems such as liability, seed purity and the coexistence of GM and non GM crops need to be resolved before the moratorium is lifted”.

See photos of Friends of the Earth’s call for action on GM at :

Europe-wide opinion polls indicate that 94 per cent of the public want labelling to give them a choice about eating GM foods, while 71 per cent reject GM food.

Geert Ritsema +31-6-290 05 908, (in Luxembourg)
Pete Riley +44 7712 843 210 (in the UK)