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EU-Strategy: Sustainability with some genetic engineering

by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)

European Commission in Brussels
European Commission in Brussels. symbol picture © Shutterstock/roibu

Europe's agriculture and food industry should become significantly more ecological by 2030. According to the strategy ‘From Farm to Fork’ which was presented by the EU Commission, the share of organic farming in the EU should increase to 25 percent by 2030 and the use of pesticides and antibiotics halved. It also includes some genetic engineering.

Organic farming associations have unanimously welcomed the planned expansion of organic farming and the associated action programme. "We expect the German Federal Government to fully implement the European objectives and to realign agricultural and food policy - the European strategy demands a clear change of strategy in Germany," commented BÖWL the organic umbrella association (Organic Food Production Alliance). Jan Plagge, Bioland President urged that the strategy also be incorporated into the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) if it is to be effective. The environmental association BUND demanded a review of the distribution of the almost 60 billion-euro annual agricultural subsidies as well as environmental and climate-damaging subsidies in EU regional policy

The environmental associations were less enthusiastic about the short paragraph on genetic engineering. The commission argues that with climate change there will be new threats to plant health. In this context, it writes: "New innovative techniques, including biotechnology and the development of bio-based products, can play a role in increasing sustainability, provided they are safe for consumers and the environment, and will benefit society as a whole". These techniques can also "accelerate the reduction of dependence on pesticides". By 'innovative biotechnology techniques' the EU Commission means new genetic engineering techniques such as the Crispr/Cas gene scissors.

"EU Commission blind spot"

"Genetic engineering is not sustainable, on the contrary. Europe does not need genetic engineering, neither old nor new genomic techniques," said Alexander Hissting, Managing Director of the ‘Association Food Without Genetic Engineering (VLOG)’. "The assertion that genetic engineering is a solution for the climate crisis, more sustainability and less pesticides is an old but unfounded promise of salvation by those who want to sell genetically modified plants".

Agro-genetic engineering remains an EU Commission blind spot, commented Antje von Broock, Managing Director Policy of the environmental association BUND. She demanded that there be no softening to the current legal framework for new genetic engineering methods in the future. The strategy will also enable the weakening of EU genetic engineering law, said Mute Schimpf, campaigner from Friends of the Earth Europe. The regulations for pesticides and the mass rearing of animals are also weak, criticised Mute Schimpf and concluded: "Agribusiness leaders will sleep well tonight".



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