Tag Archives: European Commision

EU farm groups call for end to uncertainties

European farming groups have united to urge the European Union to minimise the impact of uncertainties on trade and Brexit, and to call for more coherent European policies.

Speaking in Brussels after a meeting with 66 presidents of farmers and cooperative organisations across the EU, president of European farm union Copa, Joachim Rukwied, warned, “We are disappointed with the EU Commission proposal on the future CAP. It is unacceptable that more and more is being asked of farmers in terms of respecting tough food safety, welfare and environmental requirements for less and less money. Another major concern is the fact that the technology toolbox that farmers rely on to maintain their competitiveness is being eroded every day. We are very proud of our production standards. More coherence between policies is vital to ensure that they are maintained.

“We cannot accept that our standards in the trade talks with the Latin American trade bloc Mercosur are weakened or that our farmers are penalised for respecting them by being subject to unfair competition. Trade concessions must be minimized for our more sensitive sectors.”

Cogeca president Thomas Magnusson added, “It is in our common interest to develop good, balanced trading relations between the farming community in the EU and other parts of the world. The potential misuse of free trade agreements by our trading partners could seriously undermine the credibility of these agreements.”

 Photo Credit: Copa Cogeca

The post EU farm groups call for end to uncertainties appeared first on Hort News on 21 June 2018.

Should gene edited crops be exempt from GMO rules?

The European court’s Advocate General has determined that organisms derived by gene editing technologies are exempt from wider EU rules on growing and marketing genetically modified (GM) food.

In a release last week, Advocate General Michel Bobek suggested that the EU’s GMO Directive ‘does not … apply to organisms obtained through certain techniques of genetic modification, such as mutagenesis (‘the mutagenesis exemption’).’

Unlike transgenesis, mutagenesis does not, in principle, entail the insertion of foreign DNA into a living organism. It does, however, involve an alteration of the genome of a living species. The mutagenesis techniques have made it possible to develop seed varieties with elements resistant to a selective herbicide.

Dr Michael Antoniou, the head of the molecular genetics department at King’s College London, said exempting new plant-breeding technologies from GM laws was “wrong and potentially dangerous”.

“None of these gene editing methods are perfect,” he told the Guardian. “They have ‘off target’ effects that can inadvertently disturb the biochemistry of organisms leading to unintended outcomes which – if you’re making a new gene edited food crop, for example – could result in the unexpected production of a new toxin or allergenic substance.”

However, John Brennan, secretary-general of the biotechnology lobby group EuropaBio, said, “The advocate general’s opinion demonstrates that necessary steps are being taken towards clarifying the regulatory status of products that have been developed using the latest biotechnological tools and applications. We trust that the forthcoming ruling will contribute to establishing regulatory clarity.”

The Advocate General’s Opinion is not binding on the Court of Justice.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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European Commission to propose 10 year extension for glyphosate

According to Bloomberg and other sources, the European Commission may be preparing to recommend a 10-year extension to the approval of glyphosate.

Most famous as the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, off-patent herbicide glyphosate has recently been targeted by environmental and health campaigners, as well as the Soil Association, who cite studies which show that it can be carcinogenic and that it is frequently found in people’s urine.

Authorisation officially ended in the EU in mid-2016, when the Commission gave the chemical an 18 month stay of execution, after EU legislators failed to come to a decision on its future.

In the meantime the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has published an opinion that glyphosate is not a likely human carcinogen, but others cite a 2015 opinion from the World Health Organisation’s cancer research arm IARC, which said the herbicide is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’.

According to an un-named Commission spokesperson, in light of ECHA’s findings, the EU Commission is set to recommend reauthorisation of glyphosate for a ten year period (shorter than the full 15 years which was previously on the table) in upcoming meetings with EU Member State representatives, according to Bloomberg.

Soil Association policy director Peter Melchett commented, “Whatever the EU decision on the overall authorisation of glyphosate, there is no excuse for the UK government’s continuing failure to introduce a ban on the use of glyphosate in public places such as playgrounds and parks and to end its use pre-harvest.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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