BRUSSELS (Belgium), ALMATY (Kazakhastan), May 24, 2005 – More than 30 Civil Society organizations from Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) have today strongly condemned the European Union’s (EU) attempts to prevent the public in non-EU countries from opposing the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Friends of the Earth International
European Environmental Bureau Ecoforum
This denouncement is taking place during the second Meeting of the Parties to a United Nations Treaty on environmental rights, called the Aarhus Convention, in Almaty, (Kazakhastan), in the heart of Central Asia.
“The behavior of the European Union is outrageous, and is not taking seriously the concerns and positions of non-EU citizens. While the EU has one of the strongest biosafety frameworks for GMOs in the world, it is promoting weak GMO laws abroad. This is a clear unfair double standard”, said Serhiy Vykhryst, Ukrainian Legal Expert from the environmental coalition Ecoforum.
More than four years have passed since discussions took place in Geneva on a possible amendment to the Aarhus Convention to guarantee the citizens from the EECCA region are fully involved in any decisions related to GMOs. Despite the constant calls from civil society and governments from the EECCA region for a comprehensive amendment that would grant such rights, the European Union has adamantly opposed it. The biotech industry is also strongly opposed to any amendment to the Convention.
“Our region is the center of origin of many crops, and the introduction of GMOs puts at risk our genetic resources. Taking into account the significant uncertainty over the risk of GMOs, we need to act with great caution. No GMOs must be introduced here without full public participation and scrutiny by all relevant stakeholders”, said Mihail Matveyenko, of Global and Local Information Partnership of Kyrgystan
The Aarhus Convention is an international treaty on access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental decision-making. The treaty has been ratified by 34 countries from Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as the European Community.
Official Site 2nd Meeting of the Parties: http://www.unece.org/env/pp/mop2.html UNECE Aarhus Convention
GMO webpage: http://www.unece.org/env/pp/gmo.htm
Position of the Biotechnology Industry Organization on GMOs in Aarhus: http://www.unece.org/env/pp/gmo/lbbio.pdf
Statement from the Civil Society from Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia
For more information:
Serhy Vykhryst, Ecoforum (Russian, English): tel. +(7300) 6654139
Mihail Matveyenko, of Global and Local Information Partnership, Kyrgystan (Russian): tel. +(7300) 6654139
Juan Lopez, Friends of the Earth International (English, Spanish, French): tel. +(7300) 6654139
John Hontelez, European Environmental Bureau (English, Dutch, German, French): +(32) 486512127
Adrian Bebb, Friends of the Earth Europe (English): + (49) 1609 490 1163