The Biodynamic Federation Demeter International, representing the biodynamic farming movement worldwide as part of the organic sector, regrets the outcome of the vote by the Environment Committee on the New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) proposal and urges the Parliament to take the time to properly assess biosafety and freedom of choice.
Alongside the European organic sector, the Biodynamic Federation Demeter International remains committed to not using NGTs in biodynamic production, as is stipulated by the Demeter standard. Therefore, we welcome the maintenance of the ban of NGTs in organic production. It is an essential component to protect and respect the choice of the organic and biodynamic sectors.
However, organic and biodynamic operators must be granted with the legal and technical means to implement this ban in practice. “The burden cannot fall on the operators alone but must be accompanied by effective measures providing them with the requirements to enforce their choice. To ensure the effectiveness of the ban, traceability measures for products containing or consisting of NGTs along the whole supply chain are crucial”, points Clara Behr, Head of Policy and Public Relations. The labelling of seed foreseen for category 1 NGTs is a first step in this direction, but only grants a minimum level of traceability. Member States must also have the possibility to take necessary coexistence measures for all NGTs plants and products, such as provisions for separation distances, to diminish the risk of contamination of NGTs in other crops.
Beyond the freedom of choice for operators, citizens should also have the right to know what is in their food through transparent information via on-pack labelling for all NGTs. More than 420,000 citizens signed an EU-wide petition calling to maintain risk assessment, traceability and labelling requirements for all NGTs, showing that citizens remain concerned about the use of NGTs and prefer to uphold the precautionary principle.
This is even more important, considering the lack of scientific evidence guiding the distinction between category 1 and category 2 NGTs. The European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility and the French research institute ANSES both pointed out the absence of a scientific basis for the criteria laid out in Annex I of the proposal, which would impact the number of NGTs that must undergo risk assessment, ignoring the risks NGTs could pose to the environment.
“European policymakers must take the time to assess the consequences the NGT proposal would have on biosafety and freedom of choice. To this purpose the plenary vote scheduled for beginning of February should be delayed to enable a proper deliberation on the many issues comprised in the current proposal”, urges Clara Behr.