Brief aan het Grieks voorzitterschap van de Raad over de goedkeuring van de nieuwe GGO-maïs 1507


- Prime Minister of Greece, A. Samaras
- Minister of Rural Development and Food, Ath. Tsaftaris
- Minister of Finance, I. Stournaras

The European Parliament rejected the authorization of the new GM maize 1507, what will the Greek Presidency do?

Honourable Prime Minister, A. Samaras
Honourable Ministers

On Thursday 16 of January 2014, the European Parliament voted in favour, with a considerable majority (385 in favour, 201 against), a resolution put forward by the Green group that rejects the European Commission's proposal to authorize the placing on the market for cultivation, in accordance with Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, of a maize product (Zea mays L., line 1507) genetically modified for resistance to certain lepidopteran pests 2013/2974 (RSP) [1].

There are many concerns with the proposed authorisation of this new variety of genetically modified maize (1507, marketed as Herculex outside the EU), notably as regards its potential impact on pollinators, such as butterflies. Crucially, there has not been a proper assessment of the risks to public health and the environment associated with it [2, 3]. This, combined with the clear opposition of European citizens to GMOs, means it should not have been proposed in the first place and should certainly be rejected.

Moreover, it is absolutely clear from the Court of Justice decision on the Amflora case where the Commission has been declared of acting unlawfully that when an authorization proposal has been changed after the vote from the Regulatory Committee of Dir. 2001/18, it has to be sent back to the Committee and not to the Council.

The Council has now the obligation to reach a decision before the 12th of February 2014.The Greek Presidency should insist to deal with this highly sensitive issue in a preceding AGRI-Council, which is from our point of view the competent Council. It is clear that it would be another procedural mistake to put the file as A point on the ECOFIN Council of 28/01/2014.

Furthermore the Greek Presidency should urge the AGRI Council that they take the unified decision that the proposal should be send back to the Regulatory Committee of Dir. 2001/18 by the European Commission. If the Council let itself be forced to take a quick decision making, this will undoubtedly make the authorization illegal, given the recent rulings by the European Court of Justice and subject to legal challenge.

We are deeply concerned about this proposal as the authorization of the new GM Maize 1507 does not fall under the competence of the finance and economy Ministers, but it is rather an issue of great concern for public health, environmental protection, consumer protection, as well as rural and food safety.

Taking into consideration:

- Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2001 on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms and repealing Council Directive 90/220/EEC(1), and in particular the first subparagraph of Article 18(1) thereof,

- The vote in the committee referred to in Article 30 of Directive 2001/18/EC on maize 1507, of 25 February 2009, in which no opinion was delivered,

- The six scientific opinions concerning maize 1507 delivered by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms from 2005 to November 2012,

- Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 365/2013 of 22 April 2013 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 as regards the conditions of approval of the active substance glufosinate [4],

- The Environment Council conclusions on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) adopted on 4 December 2008,

- The position adopted at first reading on 5 July 2011 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2001/18/EC as regards the possibility for the Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in their territory [5],

- The judgment of the General Court of the European Union (Seventh Chamber) of 26 September 2013 concerning the application for deliberate release into the environment of maize 1507 [6],
- The judgement of the General Court of the European Union (First Chamber, extended composition) of 13 December 2013 (BASF GM potato Amflora; Case T-240/10 [7],
- Special Eurobarometer 354 on food-related risks [8] where the majority of EU citizens reject GMOs,

- The fact that all Regions in Greece are characterized as GMO-Free zones with a decision of the union of Greek regional authorities (ENAE) [9]

We urge the Greek Presidency:

- To convince the whole AGRI Council to advice the European Commission to send back its proposal to the Regulatory Committee of Dir. 2001/18 and not force the decision to any Council, due to substantive changes in the proposal that had occurred after the initial vote of the Committee from 25 February 2009.

- To propose the rejection of the authorization of the new GM Maize and abide with the European Parliament's decision and the citizens demands.

Failing to do so will undoubtedly make the authorization illegal and subject to legal challenge and result in compromising public interest, public health, consumer safety, environmental protection, as well as, food and rural security.

Sincerely yours,

Nikos Chrysogelos , MEP Greens (Greece)
Bart Staes , MEP Greens (Belgium)
Jose Bove , MEP Greens (France)

[1] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B7-2014-0007&language=EN
[2] http://www.foeeurope.org/sites/default/files/news/foee_background_maize1507_short.pdf
[3] http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/News/2013/Commission-considers-backing-new-GM-crop-despite-gaps-in-its-safety-testing/
[4] OJ L 111, 23.4.2013, p. 27.
[5] OJ C 33 E, 5.2.2013, p. 351.
[6] http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document_print.jsf?doclang=EN&text=&pageIndex=0&part=1&mode=lst&docid=142241&occ=first&dir=&cid=127901
[7] http://curia.europa.eu/juris/liste.jsf?language=en&jur=C,T,F&num=T-240/10&td=ALL
[8] http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/factsheet/docs/reporten.pdf
[9] http://www.gmo-free-regions.org/fileadmin/files/gmo-free-regions/GMO-Free-Network_Flyer_EN.pdf

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