The final approval of the new EU Directive on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by the European Parliament and the Council will not lead to the lifting of the de facto moratorium on new GMO approvals. Although the new legislation marks major progress in some areas this does not justify lifting the current ban.

The new Directive makes more rigorous the conditions for new approvals of all GMOs on the European market – whether imported or home produced – thus sending a clear signal that commercialisation of GM plants, feed and food will be become more difficult in Europe over the next ten years.

Under this EU-wide law, new market approvals of GMOs will be granted for a fixed period of 10 years and only after strict environmental risk assessment on a case-by case basis has been carried out. And this assessment must also cover the long term cumulative effects of GMOs on human health and environment as well as the effects on the food/feed chain. Furthermore, mandatory monitoring and risk management must follow up after approval.

Greenpeace opposes the irreversible release of all GMOs into the environment as there are massive risks linked to the planting of GM crops in the open environment and even the safety of these crops for animal and human consumption have not been properly assessed. However, Greenpeace welcomes the precautionary approach of the new Directive which provides stronger safeguards for the protection for the environment and human health.

Moreover the Directive will provide increased information and free choice for farmers and consumers through full traceabilty of GMO products at all market stages and unambigous labelling of all GMOs products. Furthermore the Directive breaks new ground on transparency as information concerning the location of GM plants will be made accessible in public registers.

Nevertheless the Directive contains some major deficiencies, notably no specific obligation to prevent genetic pollution and fails to provide an immediate ban on antibiotic resistant marker genes. While accepting the principles of traceability and labelling the Directive falls short of provisions on how they can be made operational. And there are no rules on liability to make the polluter pay for damage caused to the environment. Given these regulatory gaps in the new Directive it is absolutely essential to keep the now almost 3-year old de facto moratorium in place. Towards this end, the French Declaration to the Council this week, which has been supported by Denmark, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg and Austria, reaffirms the political support to keep the moratorium.

Greenpeace calls for the continuation of the de facto moratorium and opposes any attempt by the European Commission or any Member State to resume GMO approvals in the EU based on voluntary agreements with industry.