Bayer, BASF lobby pushed to scrap safety rules on new GM crops – even if they increase pesticide use

Crucial votes are coming up on 11 December 2023 in the Council (EU Member States) and Parliament’s Agriculture Committee on the European Commission’s proposal to deregulate GM plants made with “new genomic techniques” (NGTs) such as gene editing. This proposal has been widely condemned by groups representing the interests of the environment, consumers, farmers, and the organic and non-GMO industry sectors, as well as by independent scientists.

Biotech lobby groups especially wanted environmentally very harmful GMOs like herbicide-tolerant crops to be allowed into our fields and onto our plates without safety checks or labelling. The European Commission and some MEPs have jumped to obey industry’s orders in designing a GMO deregulation law that will harm health, biodiversity, and farmers.

New lobby documents show that even in the last days before publication of the Commission’s final proposal on 5 July, it had been changed to weaken it even further and push GM herbicide-tolerant (HT) crops into European fields – in line with the wishes of these same corporations. Indeed, while industry was pushing the deregulation of NGTs with the claim that they would help to reduce pesticide use, at the same time their misleading lobby campaign has led to the derailing of the pesticide reduction law (SUR).

Several EU member states, including France, are strongly opposed to giving a free regulatory pass to HT GM crops. In an attempt to win these countries' support, the Spanish Presidency gave in, and excluded HT crops from complete deregulation. However, the health and environmental risks from all types of GM crops (think of insecticide-producing plants) should be taken into account before their release.

By: Claire Robinson (GMWatch) and Nina Holland (Corporate Europe Observatory)

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