The EU has kept genetically modified (GM) crops out of its country’s much more so than other nations. But recent industry pressure and soft politicians have started changing course. The European Commission unveiled plans in the summer to allow the production of GM crops in some member countries. Additionally, even before that, the EU (in a back-room sort of way) approved cultivation of a genetically modified potato, the Amflora potato (aka Frankenstein potato). Of course, a number of people aren’t very happy with these decisions. Over a million people, to be precise.
Over a million people have now signed a petition against the approval of the Frankenstein potato and the petition was delivered to the EU executive last week. This is the first use of the “European citizen’s initiative,” part of the EU’s new constitutional treaty. The initiative gives citizens the ability to formally ask the European Commission to change legislation if one million or more people sign a petition.
“Organized by environmental campaigners Greenpeace, the petition calls on the Commission to stop approving GM crops and set up a new scientific body to study the impact of the technology and determine regulations,” Reuters reports.
“Over a million people across Europe have set the EU a democratic test — will the EU address the real concern people have about GM crops and food, or will it side with the chemical industry lobbyists controlling GM technology?” Greenpeace’s EU Director Jorgo Riss said.
How Does the European Citizen’s Initiative Work? No One Knows
Yeah, this is actually a little problem. The rules for the European citizen’s initiative have not been finalized yet, so this GM petition cannot technically be considered part of this initiative. The rules are not expected to be in place until the end of 2011.
Nonetheless, the EU executive is considering this “a petition in the spirit of the citizen’s initiative.” What that ends up meaning is yet to be seen. Currently, the draft rules give the EU Commission 3 months to decide what to do regarding a petition it has received — coming up with a new legislative proposal on the matter, ignoring the citizen request altogether, or something else.
We’ll see how the EU Commission responds to this test case, a clear issue of concern for many EU citizens.
Photo Credit: tatantan via flickr (CC license); Kaptain Kobold via flickr (CC license)