By Juliette Leroux – Green European Journal, 14 December 2016



The biotech industry, as well as the US and Canadian governments, are lobbying hard to have a whole new generation of genetic engineering techniques excluded from the European regulations on GMOs. As the European Commission just confirmed they would not issue their long awaited interpretation on the matter pending a decision by the EU Court of Justice in 2018, danger rises that these ‘new GMOs’ will start to spread in the EU fields and food without risk-assessment, labelling, or monitoring, and more importantly, before the EU citizens even know about their existence.

GMO has become a dirty word in the European Union, mainly thanks to the difficult fights won by the civil society, supported from the beginning by the Greens. These genetically modified organisms became a public issue in the 1990s, when transgenesis – a process aiming at introducing a foreign DNA (usually coming from another species) in a cell was perfected by the seed and agrochemical industry. With pioneers in different European countries explaining the downsides of the technology to the public, GMOs were soon massively rejected by the citizens, be it in their food or in their fields. This, and far from perfect EU regulations, have helped to keep GMO cultivation extremely low in the EU, as well as use of GM ingredients in food. But the influence of citizens is much less important when neither traceability nor labelling is available: for example the absence of labelling on products from GMO fed animals do not allow consumers to make an informed choice. As a result, EU farm animals are fed for a significant part by imported GM soya, maize and canola (GM plants amount for 55% of the protein-rich feed in the EU), despite the general mistrust.