BRUSSELS (BELGIUM) – Friends of the Earth has attacked EU Commission plans, launched today by Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler, to allow GM crops to be grown along side conventional and organic crops.

The controversial plans for the co-existence of GM, conventional and organic crops say that:

  • non-GM farmers such as organic producers would end up paying for taking measures to prevent GM contamination. Research last year showed that the costs for organic growers could increase by 41%;
  • co-existence is only an economic problem. It ignores the environmental consequences of GM contamination or the impact it will have on consumer choice. European scientists have already stated that if GM crops are grown on a large scale then consumer choice will be threatened;
  • GM-Free areas or countries should be “excluded”. The number of areas and regions wishing to be GM free are growing throughout Europe. The Commission, whilst agreeing that this is an effective way of reducing GM contamination, opposes such moves.

The Commission also hints strongly that contamination of organic foods by GMOs should be permitted. Under current EU law, no contamination of organic food by GM material is allowed. European consumers have already made their opposition to GM foods clear with 71% saying they do not want it.

In his final remarks Franz Fischler states that for crops such as oilseed rape and maize, “measures to ensure co-existence could involve significant changes in farming practices.” This is stated without assessing the financial, practical and legal implications of the changes.

Friends of the Earth’s GM campaigner Pete Riley said said: “These dreadful proposals would give the biotech industry a licence to pollute our food, farming and the environment. European consumers have made it clear that they don’t want GM crops – but if Mr Fischler gets his way we will have to pay much more to avoid eating them. Growing GM crops will cause chaos in the countryside.

Farmers will be in conflict with each other over the right to grow GM-free crops. The Commission must make it absolutely clear that the cost of GM pollution must be paid by biotech firms and those growing GM crops, and not by non-GM farmers and consumers.”


Pete Riley in the UK +44-7712 843 210 (m)
Geert Ritsema, Friends of the Earth Europe, in Brussels +32-2-42 018