Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Food in Europe- how come and how long

Couple of related articles, all on the food issue. In the end of the post, I offer you my comment to a post in Blogaktiv . The post basically said, why the EU wants to introduce GMo crops when the international experience shows they are not a solution on the food crisis, they don't give the profit the seller promised and obviously they have ill-monitored safety. I am not alone! :) Of course, I am not, but obviously, we're not enough. Yet.
  1. Industry calls for 'lead market' on healthy foods
  2. France seeks solution to EU GMO deadlock
  3. EU food safety agency aims for more transparency
  4. France to propose concrete solutions to EU's GMO muddle
  5. My reply to BlogAktiv
Anyway, my comments are below, as usual.

Industry calls for 'lead market' on healthy foods

13 June 2008

The public sector must facilitate industry-led innovation in the area of 'Healthy Foods' by improving regulation, setting standards and providing support for research, as it does in areas such as eHealth and renewable energy, argues the European technology platform 'Food for Life'.

'Healthy foods' has the potential to become a sector where European businesses can develop a global competitive advantage, so long as it receives support from the public sector as a regulator, customer and facilitator under the 'Lead Market Initiative' (LMI), proposed by the Commission in January 2008.

According to the 'Food for Life' platform's revised implementation action planPdf external , published early June, such an initiative would also reflect "the increasing consumer desire for a healthy and varied diet".

'Food for Life'external , one of the many European technology platformsexternal , was launched in July 2005. It brings together the sector's private and public stakeholders to research and develop new products and production processes related to food, health, food quality and safety as well as sustainable production and food-chain management.

Whereas the technology platform is about identifying the science and technology that the industry needs to undertake to help develop an innovative and competitive market, a lead market initiative would represent policymakers' contribution to that vision. Policy issues to be dealt with would include regulation, standardisation and consumer issues, said Maat.

According to him, regulatory issues that need addressing include food labelling and health claims while standardisation should cover things like logos. As for consumer issues, the public sector can help define "what the message we want to get across is".

The main drivers for competitiveness in the sector include citizens' concern for health, wellbeing and healthy ageing, as well as food safety and the drive for sustainability. "Food safety and sustainability may not always be considered competitive, but they are," he added.

The expectations is that the healthy foods lead market vision to be finalised in two to three years, after which implementation should start quickly.

Yesterday (12 June) also marked the first meeting of a new High Level Group (HLG) on the competitiveness of the European agro-food industry. The group, initiated by Commission's directorate for enterprise, brings together the EU's enterprise, agriculture and consumer protection commissioners as well as senior policymakers from the public and private sectors.

The aim of the HLG is to "identify and address issues that determine the competitiveness of the Agro-Food industry and to formulate a set of recommendations to achieve predictable and stable framework conditions for years to come". source

My comment: Lol, doesn't it seem that EU loves groups and discussions? Nothing wrong with that, as long as we see some action. I particularly like the idea of Food for Life and I hope they get lucky and succeed. It's important for the people to start eating healthy. It's absolute absurd to be able to extend the life in its worst moments and not in its best ones (meaning, the science gives you 5 additional years after 65, instead of giving you 5+ after 35 for example)

France seeks solution to EU GMO deadlock

5 June 2008

Environment ministers will meet today to discuss French proposals to overcome the loopholes in the EU's decision-making process on granting market authorisation to GM crops.

Today's discussions follow a Commission debate, held on 7 May 2008, that took stock of the Council's current inability to take decisions on authorising new GM crops (see EurActiv 08/05/08).

The discussion will be held at the request of France based on a dossier prepared by French officials. The objective is to consider ways to solve the current deadlock in the Council and make product approvals or rejection easier.

France's aim is also to prepare a potential high-level ministerial discussion on the issue to be held during the French EU Presidency starting on 1 July 2008. The objective, according to French officials, is "to find pragmatic solutions without calling everything into question".

France will today propose improvements to the decision-making process on GMOs on four areas:

  • Environmental impact assessment of GM crops, including toxicity of pesticide-producing GMOs and of their effects on non-targeted species;
  • improving the work of scientific expertise involved in the risk assessment procedure by, for example, asking the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to take better into account the opinions of national competent authorities;
  • establishing thresholds for GM contamination in seeds, to guarantee continuity of activities of GMO-free actors;
  • further studies about member states' right to regulate the cultivation of approved GM crops and closer cooperation with EFSA on specific arrangements regarding special ecosystems, such as agricultural systems or geographical areas.

The upcoming French Presidency hopes to continue the debate started by Austria (see EurActiv 10/03/06) in 2006 to determine whether EFSA is sufficiently equipped to make scientific counter-evaluations of safety assessment dossiers provided by industry. The risk assessment dossiers provided by the biotech industry are, according to a French official, often "very heavy" and "difficult to check".

Earlier this year, France invoked an EU safeguard clause and suspended the marketing and growth on its territory of an EU-authorised GM crop, citing new scientific evidence on a negative impact of the crops on flora and fauna.

Several other EU member states have repeatedly criticised EFSA for pro-GMO bias and say it has approved GM products without proper research. Both the special regulatory procedure and the role of EFSA have been the subject of criticism (see EurActiv 05/12/05 and 10/03/06), and the Commission decided in 2006 that some practical changes were needed to improve EFSA's GMO-approval process (see EurActiv 12/04/06).

In May 2008, the Commission referred, for the first time ever, a number of pending GMO approvals back to EFSA for further review of scientific evidence of their potential effects on the environment and human health. source

My comment: EFSA is a tragedy. Total, absolute and disgusting catastrophe. But that is to be expected when they just copy the approvals of FDA that is basically corrupted. Yup. CORRUPTED! Check After The Ping Goat on that. Anyway, the problems is that the leading scientists that can evaluate the safety are often working on contracts with the company that produce those crops. And it's hard to trust them. That's why I think the evaluating comitee should provide a full scientific and grants background so that we know they are not working for Monsanto. At least.

EU food safety agency aims for more transparency

9 June 2008

Amid growing criticism of its GMO bias and growing overall workload, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has decided to develop a database of external scientific experts to help the agency carry out risk assessments and enhance the transparency of the expert recruitment process.

EFSA is the EU's scientific risk assessment body on food and feed safety, nutrition, animal welfare, plant protection and health. Following its assessments, the Commission decides whether to authorise products on the European market.

In recent years, some member states have criticised the agency, in particular accusing it of approving genetically modified (GM) products without proper research and relying too much on information provided by industry only.

The revised policy for the selection of scientific experts and for the new database will, according to EFSA, also "contribute to enhancing the transparency of the way in which experts are selected and invited to participate in EFSA's scientific activities". Jones said the agency could also hire non-EU experts if they are leaders in their field. The scientist database will also be available to all the EU 27 countries, who may use it to select experts for their own scientific activities.

On GMO authorisation, Mark Breddy (Greenpeace) said the agency "relies entirely on industry data," adding that there's no evidence that scientific opinion in different member states and outside is being taken into account. "Therefore, EFSA should be strengthened," he concluded.

Greenpeace urges EFSA to make sure that the new expert database broadens the expertise involved in reaching its opinions, helps to make EFSA's risk assessment processes become more transparent and that it lists only scientists who do not have business interests.source

My comment: See the previous comment. It's a good development, but it's far from enough.

France to propose concrete solutions to EU's GMO muddle

8 July 2008

Paris has announced the creation of a "group of friends of the presidency" to consider the EU's GMO authorisation process, which it wants to take better account of "local specificities".

"We have asked this group to work in two directions," explained French Secretary of State for Ecology Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet .

Firstly, the group will address the evaluation process for the authorisation of GMOs, which, according to Kosciusko-Morizet, is not transparent enough and does not take sufficient account of either the long-term effects of GMOs or national expertise. So far, the approval procedures nearly always end in deadlock in the Council due to strong disagreement between member states on the issue, with the Commission finally forcing GMO approvals on them.

The current EU system "does not allow us to take into account our local specificities" with regard to nature reserves or territorial agriculture, for example, said the French state secretary.

Secondly, the group will discuss "how the potential new effects - unknown at the time of the authorisation - will be taken into account," she said.

We also need to find out how to deal with a "country who might wish to, for example, declare itself GMO-free," added Kosciusko-Morizet.

The French Presidency's group on GMOs is said to "complement" that set up by Commission President José Manuel Barroso last month. Indeed, Barroso has asked the EU-27 heads of state to nominate a senior official to a high-level informal discussion group on the EU's current GMO authorisation process and the way the related European legislation is being implemented by member states.

The French 'friends' group will be an ad-hoc working group seeking to evaluate detailed problems in an in-depth manner and find concrete answers on issues such as the risk assessment procedure. Barroso's high-level group, on the other hand, will rather focus on the "big picture" and the horizontal and global ramifications of the bloc's GMO policy.

The French 'friends' group is expected to start its work in September and submit its conclusions to the Environment Council on 4-5 December 2008. Before that, ministers will discuss the issue in the next Environment Council in early October. source

My comment: Interesting. Let's see where the money will flow this time.

And one more comment, I made on another site (see the top), that would fit nicely here.

I absolutely agree on the said in this post.
The American lobby seems to be very strong in Europe watching the struggle to make GMO a common goodies. Interestingly enough, the European citizens strongly oppose the invasion of GMO foods and crops in Europe-with the possible exception of Poland that would do anything the USA requires from it.
But all the efforts to provide better monitoring and control over the labelled foods is doomed. Why?
Why the European industry and institution doesn't want people to know what they eat! Isn't our right to choose what to eat based on its ingredients? Of course, it is. But funnily enough, there isn't a strict control over the monitoring labelled ingredients vs. actual ingredients. And it's not only about GMo parts-it's about the over-all chemical, nutritional and biological value of our food.
One would expect from EU institutions to be interested in providing more choice to their citizens and to provide them with better food, so that we don't experience the obesity epidemic from the other side of ocean.

I ask why do you want to make Europe the same as USA. Aren't we smart enough to see their mistakes and not repeat them? Or the money from such companies are just too much to be lost. Maybe they should pay all of us, not just the middle guys that fight so eagerly to provide unsafe and uncontrolled food on European table.

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