Food safety, the environment, and consumer choice are at stake, as biotech industry lobbyists pressure decision makers to deregulate a new generation of genetic engineering techniques ahead of a crucial European Commission decision in February.
Biotech lobby’s push for new GMOs to escape regulation”, a new report by Corporate Europe Observatory, shows how industry has been pushing for the deregulation of new GM techniques despite widespread consumer rejection of GMOs and the absence of sound legal and technical reasoning.
After eight years of deliberation, the Commission will take a key decision next month on whether a new generation of genetic engineering techniques will continue to be regulated or bypass Europe’s hard-won GM laws. The ‘New Breeding Techniques Platform’ has acted as industry’s lobbying vehicle to get its agenda across. Yet the claims made by the NBT Platform and other industry actors in favour of the deregulation agenda, have been debunked by various independent legal analyses and reports, as is summarised in CEO’s study.
Case studies highlight how Canada-based Cibus – a company that develops new GM crops – has attempted to sidestep the European policy process to get its products into the Europeans’ food supply unregulated. Meanwhile Dutch ministries, the Dutch Parliament, the Dutch Permanent Representation in Brussels, and Dutch MEPs have lobbied to have another of the new techniques (cisgenesis) excluded from EU GMO regulations, as detailed in the report.
“Big biotech and seed companies have invested in techniques designed to circumvent the EU’s GMO regulations, and in recent years have ramped up their lobbying for deregulation of new techniques. Deregulation means GM products could enter the food chain and the environment without having to meet the EU’s regulatory requirements. In other words, they would be untested, untraceable, unlabeled and – crucially for industry – patented. This is a clear and dangerous push for corporate control of the food chain,” says author of the report and CEO campaigner Nina Holland.