The Biodynamic Federation Demeter International, representing the biodynamic farming movement worldwide as part of the organic sector, firmly opposes the direction taken by the European Parliament’s responsible rapporteur in the draft report on new genomic techniques (NGTs). The removal of the ban of category 1 NGTs in organic farming and the seed labelling provisions are our main topics of concern. We urge the European Parliament to reinstate both provisions back in the final report.
The report, published yesterday on the NGT proposal by Jessica Polfjärd, the responsible rapporteur of the file in the lead committee, goes back on two essential provisions for the biodynamic and organic sector, including the ban of category 1 NGTs in organic farming (art. 5(2)) and the seed bag labelling of category 1 NGT plant reproductive material (art. 10). Both provisions ensure the right for organic and biodynamic operators to produce without using NGTs and allow freedom of choice for farmers.
Alongside the organic sector, the Biodynamic Federation Demeter International remains committed to GMO-free farming and breeding, as the use of gene editing technologies clearly goes against the principles of biodynamic and organic farming. The precautionary approach to all changes made in our genetic heritage and planetary biodiversity is of primary importance, ensuring free access to genetic resources and diversity. For these reasons, the Demeter Standard strictly prohibits the use of seed, propagation, or plant material produced by NGTs.
The right for biodynamic and organic operators to produce without NGTs must be safeguarded by clear provisions in the legal framework. In this regard, all NGTs, including category 1 NGTs, must be banned in organic production. Without a clear framework, additional burdens will be created for the whole GMO-free sector, including a breach of consumer trust.
“Farmers and producers must have the freedom to choose. Traceability and labelling are key in this regard. As farming starts with seeds, the freedom of choice starts with a mandatory seed bag labelling of category 1 NGTs as a minimum traceability requirement”, states Clara Behr, Head of Policy and Public Relations at the Federation.
The report will now be discussed in both the Environment and Agriculture Committees of the European Parliament. MEPs must safeguard GMO-free farming systems, including organic and biodynamic farming, by ensuring the freedom of choice for breeders, farmers, and operators, and by reinstating the ban of category 1 NGTs in organic production. “There is only one way forward: traceability and labelling must be ensured for all NGTs”, urges Clara Behr.