EU: ‘GM food isn't safe’

19 April 2006

EU: ‘GM food isn't safe’

SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard has put written questions to the European Commission concerning genetically modified (GM) foodstuffs of uncertain quality, which, despite serious doubts about their safety have nevertheless found their way on to European consumers' plates. The European Commission did everything it could to hold back this information until environmental organisations managed to get hold of it.

Environmental organisations Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Europe have published a report revealing that the European Commission has systematically held back information on the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and food derived from them.

In recent years the Commission has approved a number of GMOs for release on to European markets, often against the will of the member states. This has led to a number of incidents calling the safety of the products involved into question, and yet the Commission has always maintained that they pose no danger to people or to the environment. Such certainty turns out to be far from justified. Friends of the Earth has obtained documents which the EU has sent over the last few years to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in order to defend itself in a trade dispute which the US brought before the WTO disputes panel.

From these documents it appears that the Commission was aware of scientific doubts over the safety of GMOs, noting, for example that "it is impossible to know the effects on safety in the long term." Furthermore, the Commission pointed to the existence of newly identified and complex risks and expressed serious doubts regarding the ecological safety issues surrounding the cultivation of GMOs. The Commission also turns out to have had serious doubts of its own over the quality of the research conducted on GMOs by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), supposedly the EU's food safety watchdog.
Kartika Liotard“It is to say the least remarkable that this was included in the submission to the WTO, while the European public was not considered to be in need of the same information. This not only reflects badly on food safety but also on the transparency and trustworthiness of the European Commission," Kartika Liotard observed.

The environmental organisations are demanding that the EU call an immediate halt to the approval of GM foods until their safety for the public and the environment is absolutely guaranteed. Liotard is in complete agreement with this position and is demanding in addition to know why the European Commission kept these facts hidden. She is putting questions to this effect to the Commissioner responsible.

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