Tuesday, April 04, 2017 by Vicki Batts
As the month of March came to an end, a majority of European Union members voted against a proposal that would bring in two new types of genetically modified maize. Sixteen members of the EU took a stand against the introduction of new GMO crops, but will that be enough to keep them out of Europe?
The two new varieties of maize include DuPont Pioneer’s 1507 and Syngenta’s Bt11. Both varieties kill insects by producing their own pesticides, and are resistant to Bayer’s glufosinate herbicide. If they are approved, Eco Watch reports that they will be the first new GMO crops approved for cultivation since 1998 — nearly twenty years ago.
Even though a majority of the EU voted against the approval of these new GMO varieties, it appears that simply is not enough to keep them out. As Reuters explains, the votes were not considered decisive because the opposition did not include a “qualified majority,” which is defined as including countries that make up at least 65 percent of the EU.
Monsanto’s GM corn variety, MON810 was also up for debate, as the EU voted on whether or not the GM crop’s license should be renewed. MOn810 is currently the only genetically modified crop that is cultivated in the EU, and it is primarily grown in Spain and Portugal. Less than 1 percent of the farmland in the EU is dedicated to cultivating Monsanto’s GM corn, however, and in total, 19 nations of the EU have banned MON810 entirely. Overall, most of the EU has traditionally expressed opposition towards GM crops, and all EU nations require labeling of GM foods.
As Friends of the Earth Europe reportedly explains, the fates of these three GM crops now reside in the hands of the European Commison. Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the organization, is no doubt feeling the pressure as the call to reject the GMO corn varieties continues to grow louder.
In a recent statement, Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, boldly declared, “Whether he likes it or not, the buck now stops at Jean-Claude Juncker.”
“He can put himself on the side of the majority of countries, citizens and farmers who do not want genetically-modified crops, or he can back the mega-corporations behind the industrialization of our countryside,” she said.
According to Greenpeace EU, even if the three crops gain approval, they will not be commonly grown. The approval would only be valid in nine of the 28 EU countries, along with three regions: Flanders and the Brussels regions of Belgium, and England. The remaining 19 countries and regions of the EU have chosen to “opt-out” and prevent GMO crops from being grown within their borders.
Even a small amount of GMO crop cultivation can be of great concern, however. Friends of the Earth Europe is calling upon Juncker to take a stand against corporate interests and do what is right for the people of Europe and the region’s environment by denying approval to these test-tube concoctions that the biotech industry tries to pass off as crops.
“There is no political or public support for genetically-modified crops; farmers don’t even want them. It’s time for President Juncker to pull the plug on this failed technology once and for all, and to focus on how we make farming resilient to climate change, save family farms and stop the destruction of nature. It’s time to close our countryside to genetically-modified crops and move on,” Schimpf proclaimed in her recent statement. [RELATED: Read more stories about GMO crops at GMO.news.]