Select Committee on European Communities Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 1

AGRI INFO—COPA COGECA—Crops: Miguel GARCIA NAVARRO; Source: COPA COGECA;

Date sent 22-4-1998


INITIAL POSITION ON BIOTECHNOLOGY AND THE USE OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED

ORGANISMS (GMOS) IN AGRICULTURE WITHIN THE EU INITIAL POSITION ON BIOTECHNOLOGY AND THE USE OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS (GMOS) IN AGRICULTURE[1]

WITHIN THE EU

  New techniques acquired through biotechnology which allow for production of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are undergoing rapid development on a worldwide scale. Farmers and their co-operatives wish to open a constructive dialogue on this subject with consumers and all other relevant parties. They would in particular wish to discuss the implications of the use of GMOs as regards health, ethic, environmental protection, methods of agricultural production and commercial, economic and political aspects. COPA and COGECA have to this end approved the principles outlined below which will be taken into account when taking a position on future developments in the field of biotechnology. COPA and COGECA request that a procedure for consulting farmers and their co-operatives be set up.

  1. The European Union cannot isolate itself politically, economically and commercially from the developments in the field of biotechnology. It must consequently reinforce its policy in terms of research and development as well as authorisation and post-release monitoring in order to remain at the forefront of these developments.

  2. The use of GMOs can present advantages for society, but it can also pose risks. Ensuring transparency and the supply of correct and complete information for all those working in the sector from farmers to consumers by means of an appropriate labelling system which may be monitored are indispensable if they are to make well-informed decisions. To this end, a global authorisation, labelling and control system is required both for Community products and imported products so as to ensure that any problems which may arise are identified and resolved.

  3. To ensure safety and the confidence of consumers as well as farmers, the European Union must set up an independent scientific body responsible for the following matters relating to GMOs:

    —  the application of a transparent and reliable procedure for assessment of all possible risks, for authorising placing on the EU market and for monitoring after release;

    —  contributing to the development of an international reference framework.

  4. For COPA and COGECA, authorisation of placing GMOs on the European Union market must be based on the comprehensive scientific assessment of experimental data over a sufficiently long period so as to provide the general public with maximum security for human and animal health as well as environmental protection. Authorisation may be granted only on condition that constant post-release monitoring is carried out, in particular, with regard to health and environmental protection. Such an assessment procedure must also make it possible to ensure that products authorised in other regions of the world present the same guarantees.

  5. The production, marketing, processing and import of GMOs may only be authorised within the European Union in accordance with the Community procedure outlined above. The current risk of distortions of competition which has emerged as a result of the recent authorisation of marketing and processing GMOs from the United States within the European Union is unacceptable and must be avoided in future.



1   This position has been based primarily on the present situation within the arable sector.  Back


 
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