Brussels, 2nd April 2009
Commission publishes new report on national strategies to ensure coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming
Member States have made significant progress in developing coexistence legislation during the last years. This development of the legislative framework has gone hand in hand with a moderate expansion of the cultivation of GM crops. At the present time there is no indication of the need to deviate from the subsidiarity-based approach on coexistence. The Commission will continue to develop recommendations for crop-specific technical segregation measures together with Member States and stakeholders. These are the main conclusion of the second report from the European Commission on the coexistence of GM crops with conventional and organic farming, published today.
15 Members States have adopted legislation on coexistence, 11 more than in 2006 when the first coexistence report was published. Another 3 Member States have notified draft legislation to the Commission.
The coexistence approaches applied in Member States differ with respect to administrative procedures and the technical specifications of segregation measures. These differences reflect the regional variation of agronomic, climatic and other factors determining the likelihood of GMO admixture to non-GM crops. In view of further enhancing the efficiency of national coexistence measures, the European Coexistence Bureau (ECoB), created by the Commission, is developing, in collaboration with the Member States, crop specific Best Practice Documents.
The Commission is convinced that the subsidiarity-based approach on coexistence has been the right choice and it sees no need to develop further harmonisation on this matter. The Commission is committed to strengthening its efforts to facilitate co-operation among Member States, to promote a science-based and practical approach on segregation measures. In 2011, the Commission will report on the progress made, including an update on the development and implementation of national coexistence measures.
Measures ensuring coexistence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic agricultural production provide for choice of consumers and agricultural producers and, thus, reconcile individual preferences and economic opportunities. Whilst environmental and health aspects of GM crop cultivation are to be addressed beforehand during the authorisation procedure, coexistence measures have their focus on the economic impact.
The segregation measures applied under coexistence rules enable the cultivation of GM crops, while protecting farmers of non-GM crops from adverse economic consequences of accidental mixing of crops with GMOs. Following the Commission Recommendation of 2003, coexistence measures shall be science-based and proportionate and must not generally forbid the growing of GM crops.
EU experience with the cultivation of GM crops remains extremely limited in comparison with other regions of the world. The only GM crop currently cultivated in the EU is GM maize which is resistant to certain lepidorpteran pests. In 2008, GM maize was produced in the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Romania, and Slovakia on a cultivation surface of about 100 000 hectares equalling 1.2 percent or the EU's total maize area.