Brussels, October 03, 2002 – On Wednesday 9th October hundreds of people from across Europe will march through the streets of Brussels, pushing supermarket trolleys filled with food free from genetically modified (GM) ingredients. The trolley procession, organised by Friends of the Earth, will call on European ministers to take urgent action to protect European food from GM contamination. The EU is due to make several important decisions on GM food and crops over the coming weeks.
The trolley parade will pass through the streets of Brussels, stopping off at the European Parliament (Place du Luxembourg), before finally gathering in front of the European Council (Rond Point Schumann) at 14.00, where EU delegations – who are meeting to discuss GM labelling proposals – will be handed GM-free food specialities from across Europe.
Crucial decisions to be made within the next few weeks Later this month, EU Member States will make several important decisions concerning GM food.
.· On the 16th October the Agricultural Council of EU ministers will vote on a proposal to label all food and animal feed derived from GMOs.
· On 17th October EU Environment ministers will vote on a similar proposal.
· In the first week of November, EU Member States will hold an indicative vote on a proposal to allow seeds to contain up to 0.7 % of genetic contamination before they need to be labelled.
Friends of the Earth welcomes proposals by the European Commission and European Parliament to label all GM food and animal feed. This would strengthen existing labelling regulations and give consumers a choice about eating GM-derived food. But an attempt by the Danish Presidency to weaken the proposals raises serious concerns.
The Danish Presidency has introduced ‘transitional measures’ into the draft labelling proposals. These would allow food contaminated by GMOs that haven’t been authorised in Europe – up to a 1% threshold – to be sold in Europe for three years, without being labelled. For example this could mean that for a period of three years, one in every hundred tomatoes sold could be a GM variety unapproved in Europe, and – because it wouldn’t need to be labelled – would be almost impossible for consumers to avoid.
The proposal to allow genetic pollution in seed lots is even more worrying. Since seeds are at the beginning of the food chain, this proposal threatens the supply of GM-free food.
Europeans want to eat GM-free food According to the latest opinion polls, 71% of European citizens are opposed to GM food . The Brussels trolley parade will remind European politicians about the public’s overwhelming rejection of this new technology, and will urge ministers to vote in favour of labelling of all food and animal feed derived from GMOs and against proposals to allow ‘accidental’ genetic pollution in food, animal feed and seeds.
European ministers are under increasing pressure from the biotech industry and the US to allow more GMOs into Europe. During the Council meetings in October they might even decide to drop the current EU-wide moratorium on approving any new GMOs. It is far too early to even consider such a step. The moratorium should be upheld until full safety regulations against the risks of GMOs are in place, and laws requiring the labelling of all GM food should be fully operational.
More about the trolley parade
The trolley parade will start from Spanjeplein/Place d’Espagne (facing Brussels Central Station) at 12 noon. It will stop at the Parliament building (Place du Luxembourg) at 13.00, from where it will go to the European Council building (Rond-Point Schumann), arriving approximately 14.00. Here there will be speeches from key speakers, including: Alexander de Roo, Member of the European Parliament and Alan Simpson, a Member of the UK Parliament. A petition and GM-free food will be offered to the permanent representatives of the EU Member States who are meeting on the 9th October to discuss the proposals for traceability and GM labelling.
During the parade, delegations from the following countries will be present:
Austria: Global 2000
Belgium: Velt, Les Amis de la Terre
Croatia: Zelena Akcija
England, Wales and NI: Friends of the Earth
France: Les Amis de la Terre
Italy: Amici Della Tierra
Luxembourg: Mouvement Ecologique
The Netherlands: Milieudefensie
Scotland: Friends of the Earth Scotland
Spain: Amigos de la Tierra
Sweden: Miljöförbundet Jordens Vänner
Representatives of the above organisations are available for interview before, during and after the trolley action.
FOR MORE DETAILS PLEASE CONTACT THE FOE EUROPE OFFICE
Geert Ritsema, FOE Europe GMO Campaign Coordinator
+32 2 542 0182 mobile +31 6 290 05 908
Niccolo Sarno, FOE press officer + 31 6 51005630 (October 9 only)
 On 16th October the Agricultural and Fisheries Council will vote upon the draft EU legislation on GM food/feed (COM (2001) 425 final), which deals with authorization of genetically modified food and animal feed, and also with traceability and labelling of GM food and GM animal feed.
• On 17th October the Environmental Council will vote about a proposal by the European Commission to install traceability for GM food and animal feed and to label all GM animal feed and all food derived from GMOs (COM (2001) 182 final).
• Beginning of November the Standing Committee on “Seeds and Propagating Material for Agriculture, Horticulture and Forestry” will hold an indicative vote on a draft Directive (working document SANCO/1542/02-Juy 2002) concerning the genetic contamination of seeds.