The organic food and farming movement welcomes the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which clarifies that new genetic engineering techniques produce Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and will have to be regulated as such under the existing EU legislation.
Jan Plagge, IFOAM EU President, said: “The confirmation by the European Court of Justice that new GMOs will be subject to traceability and labelling is good news for organic breeders, farmers and processors but also for all European producers and consumers as it brings clarity and will ensure the freedom to avoid such GM products and the protection of the environment from the potential risks of these new technologies.”
“The European Commission cannot delay action anymore and now has to ensure that the EU legal framework is properly enforced by Member States. The Commission should immediately launch a research project to develop detection methods that will complement the traceability system, to ensure an adequate segregation of these new GM plants and to prevent the contamination of organic and conventional GMO-free food and feed production in Europe”, added Eric Gall, Policy Manager at IFOAM EU.
In its press release, the ECJ considers “that the risks linked to the use of these new mutagenesis techniques might prove to be similar to those that result from the production and release of a GMO through transgenesis” and “That the GMO Directive is also applicable to organisms obtained by mutagenesis techniques that have emerged since its adoption”.
UK umbrella campaign GM Freeze today also welcomed a European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision to ensure proper regulation of controversial new genetic engineering techniques.
Commenting on the news, GM Freeze Director Liz O’Neill said:
“This case was portrayed by industry as an argument about definition but the court has seen sense and made it clear that what actually matters is how we regulate emerging technologies that have the potential to permanently alter the ecosystem.
“The genome is a far more complex system than we used to believe – more like a biological super-computer than the DNA model my 13-year-old son made for his science homework a few weeks ago. The fact that one can create a passable visual representation of DNA from garden twine, pasta, polystyrene packing balls and four different coloured felt-tips doesn’t mean that altering the genome is as straightforward or predictable as moving those polystyrene balls around.
“All genetic engineering techniques give rise to both unexpected changes and unpredictable real-world impacts. We are delighted that this ruling will ensure their use in our fields and our food will be subject to detailed safety checks, monitoring and traceability. “
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