GM Crops: Is European Farming at Risk?

ANALYSIS - The debate over genetically modified (GM) crops in the European Union has been reignited with the launch of a new campaign hoping to halt the authorisation of 25 new GM crops in Europe, writes 5m editor, Gemma Hyland.
calendar icon 20 March 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

Campaigners from protest group, 'Stop the Crop', claim that such a move would drastically change farming in Europe, leading to a big increase in pesticide use, contamination of conventional and organic crops and a further industrialisation of the countryside.

The European Commission is currently considering reviving talks to approve 25 new GM crops for cultivation in Europe – including crops resistant to the pesticide RoundUp and insecticide-producing varieties of GM maize, soybean and sugarbeet, however Stop the Crop claim that GM crops are 'unnecessary, risky and profit large multinational companies at the expense of small scale and sustainable farming.'

Mute Schimpf, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "This campaign aims to stop further genetically modified crops from being licensed in the European Union.

"Experience shows that this way of farming leads to an increase in pesticides and the further industrialisation of the countryside. If this happens any more in Europe then our landscapes will be poorer, our nature damaged and our food contaminated.”

The use of GM crops is a taboo subject throughout much of Europe, with Poland most recently becoming the eighth European country to ban GM crops, including those approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as safe for cultivation.

UK Environment Secretary,Owen Paterson highlighted the benefits of GM crops at this years Oxford Farming Conference, stating that in terms of innovation, GM crops should not be overlooked.

"I fully appreciate the strong feelings on both sides of the debate. GM needs to be considered in its proper overall context with a balanced understanding of the risks and benefits," said Mr Paterson.

"We should not, however, be afraid of making the case to the public about the potential benefits of GM beyond the food chain, for example, significantly reducing the use of pesticides and inputs such as diesel.

"As well as making the case at home, we also need to go through the rigorous processes that the EU has in place to ensure the safety of GM crops. I believe that GM offers great opportunities but I also recognise that we owe a duty to the public to reassure them that it is a safe and beneficial innovation."

The Environment Council is expected to decide on the approval of 25 new GM crops in the coming months. The next step will be a vote amongst the same experts, the outcome of which will govern whether the European Commission decides to authorise their cultivation in Europe.

Information and views represented in this video are those of Sourced TV, Friends of the Earth & Corporate Europe Observatory.

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