How to prevent uncontrolled spread of genetically engineered plants?
Tuesday, 8. October 2013, Munich – A legal dossier commissioned by Testbiotech and published today highlights substantial gaps in the current EU regulation of genetically engineered organisms. According to the dossier, it cannot be ruled out that genetically engineered plants are allowed for cultivation in the EU, even if they can spread without control in the environment. In the light of these findings, Testbiotech is urging a strengthening of the precautionary principle. Just recently, the organisation published a report showing that uncontrolled dispersal of genetically engineered oilseed rape is happening on global scale.
“If genetically engineered plants get out of control and transgenes spread into populations of wild species, we will be unable to withdraw them from the environment. This is a major problem if new risks and hazards emerge. Such releases have to be prohibited for precautionary reasons – in the EU and also in other regions of the world” says Christoph Then for Testbiotech.
The legal dossier “Genetically Modified Living Organisms and the Precautionary Principle” was written by Prof. Dr. Ludwig Krämer, a former official of the EU Commission. The dossier identifies a considerable number of uncertainties in the risk assessment of genetically modified organisms. Their long-term implications in particular still cannot be assessed reliably.
The dossier is also of relevance for EU Member States who want to adopt national legislation to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of genetically engineered plants. Further, the findings are relevant for the discussion around the planned Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP). In the context of the TTIP, the precautionary principle is increasingly becoming the focus of various stakeholders. Industry wants the EU to abandon the precautionary principle in order to speed up the process of placing plants onto the market.
The legal dossier was drawn up with the help of the Grassroots Foundation.