EU Succumbs to U.S. Pressure on GM Contamination
Industry spent over half a billion lobbying for pro-GMO policies in past decade.
BRUSSELS AND WASHINGTON – Today, the head of Brussels-based Food & Water Europe and Washington D.C.-based Food & Water Watch denounced a recent EU Animal Committee vote to permit animal feed contaminated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as “spectacularly shortsighted.”
The EU committee responsible for animal health has voted to accept what it calls a “technical solution” to GM contamination of animal feed that will permit up to 0.1% of imports to contain GM traits that have not been assessed as safe under European regulations.
“This spectacularly shortsighted move comes after years of intense pressure from U.S. biotech lobbyists looking to cut the costs segregating out crops the EU has not yet approved,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Europe. Since 1999, the 50 largest agricultural and food patent holding companies and two of the largest biotechnology and agrochemical trade associations have spent more than $572 million in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures in the U.S.
The move comes under the guise of easing farmers’ access to cheap feed, with the industry arguing that EU restrictions have made it more difficult to import GM soya. But a mere .2 % of all EU feed imports have ever been turned back because they contained unapproved GMOs, and none have been refused since 2009. All of the shipments ever refused have been from the U.S.
“By exaggerating the situation and inflaming concerns among beleaguered EU livestock farmers, the industry has successfully and dishonestly painted a ‘life or death’ scenario for them,” said Hauter.
The move does not diminish the need for Europe to urgently address its reliance on imported proteins for animal feed, nor does it coincide with the wishes of European consumers, who have consistently rejected GMOs at the checkout counter.
Food & Water Europe and Food & Water Watch called on the U.S. to stop pressuring other countries to accept its choices for food and agriculture. “Every country has the right to plant and eat what they choose without interference from unaccountable multinational agribusinesses,” said Hauter.
The organisation also called for real labels on all meat, milk, eggs and dairy products denoting where GM feed is not used, so consumers can avoid GMOs if they choose.
Food & Water Europe is a program of Food & Water Watch, Inc., a non-profit consumer NGO based in Washington, D.C., working to ensure clean water and safe food in Europe and around the world. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by calmaction