GM Free Cymru

Cautious welcome for GMO Freeze in Europe

Press Notice from GM-Free Cymru 19 December 2012

NGOs have given a cautious welcome to the announcement that the European Commission has entered a "period of reflection" with regard to GMO crops and products.

The "freeze" announcement, made by Food Safety Director Eric Poudelet of DG-SANCO at a meeting of the EU Petitions Committee on 3rd December (1), arises out of the intense public debate within Europe on the apparent chronic toxicity of GM food and Roundup residues in the food chain. Mr Pouldelet suggested that he and his colleagues had to be sensitive to public concerns and also mindful of the scientific debate arising from the publication of a recent paper by Prof Gilles-Eric Seralini and colleagues (2), who found that rats which had small quantities of GM maize and Roundup herbicide introduced into their food supply over a period of two years developed severe toxic symptoms including cancerous tumours. Mr Poudelet stressed to MEPs that the Commission's number one priority was the safeguarding of public health, and that prudence and a very careful consideration of scientific opinion was now needed.

Mr Poudelet also stressed that during this period of "reflection" no moves would be made to bring into law a very controversial "Draft Implementing Regulation" on GMOs which would have the effect of removing toxicological testing altogether from certain types of GMOs brought before the regulators for consideration and advice leading to approval. The law would also give unprecedented powers of discretion to EFSA in deciding what types of studies should be submitted by applicants for GMO approvals -- something which has been interpreted by NGOs as an unacceptable loosening of safety controls.

In spite of Mr Poudelet's assurances, MEPs are in no mood to halt their criticisms of EFSA and the Commission, and every MEP who spoke at the Committee meeting expressed grave disquiet about the hasty and unrepresentative manner in which the Seralini study had been dismissed by a small group of officials with no personal experience of animal feeding studies (3). They asked for arrangements to be made for Professor Seralini to address the Committee, and they would also like EFSA to be present for questioning.

Speaking for the group GM-Free Cymru, Dr Brian John said: "We warmly welcome this new move from the Commission. For too long it has simply gone along with whatever advice it gets from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and has paid more attention to American commercial concerns (4) than to public safety concerns in Europe. But in the last week EFSA has demonstrated that it is not only corrupt but also quite unfit for purpose, having conspired with selected officials from a few member states to dismiss out of hand -- and with indecent haste -- the research results from the Seralini team (5). Whatever the shortcomings of the French research might have been, there is no doubt that toxic effects have been observed by honest and competent researchers -- and it would be the height of irresponsibility on the part of the Commission if these effects were simply to be ignored.

"We still await confirmation from the Commission, but we hope that there is now a de facto freeze in place, which means that there will be no further consents for GMOs for the time being, and that the concerns of MEPs and members of the public will be addressed in a measured and sensitive fashion."


Further info: Dr Brian John GM-Free Cymru Tel 01239-820470


(1) Eric Poudelet, representing DG-SANCO, spoke from 18.07.11 until 18.10. He spoke about the process (of bringing in the Draft Implementing Regulation on GMOs) being transparent with stakeholders and NGOs being able to express their opinions, and that Parliament was involved. He went on to say that Parliament will be consulted in the phase of adoption. Then he said: "At the moment we are just in a reflection phase because the administrative process for adoption of the guidelines was frozen as a result of the study by Prof. Seralini because we wanted to know exactly what the situation was with regard to their short term or medium toxicity. It is wrong to say that this is being done for the US. The US, Canada, Brazil etc etc all expressed their dissatisfaction with the guidelines......" Finally he stated: "We do have this procedure in place for adoption and as I was saying we had put this on hold for a period of time because we were waiting for the consideration of the Seralini Report to see if it was appropriate and the draft will come up for discussion in the future."

(2) Séralini, G-E., E. Clair, R. Mesnage, S. Gress, N. Defarge, M. Malatesta, D. Hennequin, J. Spiroux de Vendômois. 2012. Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food Chem. Toxicol. 19 September 2012

(3) MEPs to call in Seralini and EFSA for hearing. EU Food Policy, 7 December 2012 MEPs unhappy with EFSA assessment of Seralini study
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 21:43

U.S. trade deal could be a lot for Europe to swallow

(5) Petition presentations in Brussels -- 3rd December 2012
The corrupting of EFSA