Co-Existence measures

Co-existence measures and legal aspects

Both in Flanders and Wallonia, legal frameworks on co-existence are being developed. In both cases, new decrees are being drafted that have to pass through the regional parliaments.

Legal framework

Co-existence in Flanders

On 10 October 2008, the Flanders government approved its final proposal for a co-existence decree. The decree is now being forwarded to the Flanders parliament which will discuss it first in its agriculture commission, and later in its plenary.

This final proposal contains only a few minor alterations, especially in the explanatory note, compared to earlier versions. These alterations were taken up following discussions with the European Commission and a legal advice of the Council of State.
The draft decree had been notified to the European Commission and was further adjusted after receiving some comments from the Commission, making it now in line with the European Union policy on co-existence.

  • It prescribes the notification to neighbouring farmers within a certain perimeter.
  • Farmers who grow the same crop within a defined separation distance can object to the growing of the GM crop if they can prove having an economic interest.
  • Contractors and storage installations need to be certified.
  • A committee will look at the objections and can then impose additional cultivation conditions.
  • Farmers and contractors will have to undergo training on GM crop co-existence.
  • There will also be a fund to which GM growers have to contribute.
  • The committee will decide upon the reimbursement of damages from the fund based upon substantiated damage claims.

It is expected that the draft decree will be discussed in the Flanders parliament in the last quarter of 2008 with the goal to finish this piece of legislation before the next elections in Flanders in June 2009.

A few additional executive decrees have also been drafted, one of which is on practical co-existence measures for maize.

Co-existence in Wallonia

In August 2008, the Walloon region has published a co-existence decree. The decree is one of the more stringent pieces of co-existence legislation in Europe. Its explicit goal is to “maximally protect conventional and organic agriculture from the involuntary dissemination of genetically modified crops”. This decree makes the growing of GM crops very difficult. Major features of the decree are:

  • Registration of GMO cultures
  • Notification to neighbouring farmers of the intent to grow a GM crop
  • Adherence to large separation distances
  • Stringent conditions for handling and growing GM crops
  • GMO farmers have to contribute to a fund, from which damages will be paid to farmers who suffer economic losses as a result of GM admixture.

While similar principles are part of co-existence legal frameworks in other countries, the Walloon decree applies even stricter conditions.
The decree is currently only available in French and can be downloaded from the Walloon parliamentary pages.

Walloon region GM free

After the publication of the co-existence decree in August 2008, the Walloon region has announced that it wants to become a member of the network of European GM free regions, hereby publicly reiterating its policy to strongly discourage the use of GMOs in its agriculture.

Regional Co-extra reporter /rapporteur:
  • René Custers
    Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB)
    Rijvisschestraat 120, B-9052 Zwijnaarde, Belgium
    Phone: +32 9 244 6611
    Fax: +32 9 244 6610

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