[BE] Flemish government approves draft decree on co-existence

At the end of March 2007, the Flemish government approved a draft decree to regulate the co-existence of GM crops with conventional and organic crops. The decree defines first rules for good farming practice, yet does not contain details such as the size of separation distances. These necessary additional decisions are planned to be ready before the co-existence decree comes into effect.

The draft regulation on co-existence is focused on communication and information. Within a certain distance that will be defined by a separate decision, a farmer with the intention of growing a GM crop must notify his colleagues. Neighbours growing similar non-GM crops within this distance may object to his intention. However, such neighbours must provide evidence of likely economic damage.

In the case of an objection, the authorities will determine whether there are options that allow cultivation of the GM crop without risk of economic damages to conventional farmers. The draft also allows for bilateral agreements between GM and non-GM farmers.

Contractors will have to be certified to work with GM crops, and workers in GM fields must be informed about the co-existence requirements for the specific crop.

GM farmers will not be held liable for economic damages in neighbouring fields, if they have complied with the co-existence rules for that particular crop. In such cases, economic damages will be covered by a fund financed by a charge per hectare on every GM cultivation.

Belgium and Luxembourg