EUROPE – The European Parliament has taken a step towards potentially reshaping the regulatory framework governing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the European Union.
The passage of Swedish MEP Jessica Polfjärd’s draft report, which garnered 307 votes in favor, marks a crucial development in the ongoing debate surrounding new genomic techniques (NGTs) and their integration into agriculture.
European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides expressed optimism following the vote, emphasizing the importance of equipping farmers with innovative tools to enhance agricultural productivity and food security.
The decision was welcomed by COPA-COGECA, the EU’s largest agricultural interest group, which views NGTs as instrumental in fostering sustainable farming practices amid the challenges posed by climate change.
Divergent views and criticisms
Despite the overall support for the draft report, contentious amendments regarding traceability and labeling have sparked controversy.
The European Non-GMO Industry Association (ENGA) contends that these amendments are essential to safeguarding transparency and consumer choice in the food supply chain.
However, not all stakeholders share this optimistic outlook. President of IFOAM Organics Europe, Jan Plagge, raised concerns about potential implications of the draft report, citing perceived shortcomings in addressing biosafety requirements and corporate control over genetic resources.
Plagge emphasized the need for comprehensive solutions to protect farmers and breeders from corporate dominance and uphold the integrity of organic and GMO-free production.
While the passage of the draft report signifies a significant milestone, it does not immediately translate into new EU legislation.
The European Council of Ministers is poised to articulate its position on the matter, paving the way for trilogue negotiations among various institutions.
Despite the road ahead, the direction of regulatory reform regarding NGT-derived crops appears increasingly clear, underscoring the potential for seismic changes in GMO regulation within the EU.