EU Committee of the Regions calls for new safety debate for co-existence

In response to the report of the European Commission on the co-existence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming, the EU Committee of the Regions has published a draft opinion. This draft stresses the need to view co-existence not only as a matter of economics. The final opinion has been adopted at a plenary meeting on 6 December 2006.

Customarily, the EU considers the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops to be an economic issue, since safety issues already must have been considered during the approval of a GMO. However, as the draft opinion points out, many member states have raised safety concerns even for approved GM crops. The Committee of the Regions considers the current, general monitoring system for safety evaluation of GMOs to be insufficient. Therefore, the draft recommends the inclusion of aspects of environmental and consumer safety in the development of co-existence measures and regulations.

According to the draft opinion, organic farming has not been adequately addressed in the Commission's report. For example, the Committee of the Regions recommends the improvement of  seed regulations, particularly for organic seeds, of which an admixture threshold of 0.9 percent GMO is considered inappropriate. In addition, the Committee suggests that the power of application of the "safeguard clause“ – which already may be applied by member states – be extended to individual regions within member states.