Last week a majority of EU member states voted against an extension of GMO food in the EU but it is the Commission that will make the final decision. Which way will the Commission swing?
EU Perspectives investigates.
The decision to approve Pioneer 1507 rests no longer with the Member States or the Parliament. It now rests with the European Commission who have been ordered to make a decision one way or the other by the European Court of Justice. The European Commission has been trying to pass the buck on this one for over ten long years hoping that the problem will simply evaporate. And, who can blame them.
The debate surrounding GMO products is as divisive as it is polarised. Supporters of GMO products are quick to provide a host of scientific studies to justify the existence of food produced in a lab. Six from the EFSA no less. According to the agri-lobby their scientific evidence points to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Anyone who challenges their studies are either ignorant dullards, unreasonable opponents, hysterical Luddites with their feet in the past, or individuals with a penchant for consulting the Oracles and prone to reading Runes before making a sensible decision. Theirs, par contra, is the voice of reason, forward thinking and innovation.
Not so says the opposition who have produced a wealth of scientific studies supporting their case, which “proves” that GMO products are unsafe, undesirable and dangerous.
For any outsider there is only one thing to conclude. There is no point trying to figure out whether or not to allow Pioneer 1507 onto EU soil based on science alone. For every study that proves “x” an opposing study will prove “y”.
Into the thick of this debate wades EU Perspectives, which humbly proposes that since there is no scientific consensus as to the safety of GMO products, on this occasion at least, the science should be disregarded.
The key criteria for approving Pioneer 1507 should be – is there a need for Pioneer 1507?
The question of necessity could be addressed by asking and answering the following:
i) In the absence of Pioneer 1507 is the EU at risk of imminent famine? No.
ii) Do farmers need Pioneer 1507 in order to run a successful, profitable farm? No. To date there are no reports, of angry farmers protesting that they can not run their outfit without Pioneer 1507. No reports of farmers abandoning their lands because of a lack of Pioneer 1507.
iii) Do consumers need Pioneer 1507? Ditto to the above. Most EU consumer seem perfectly happy with the huge array of food choices currently on offer. No mass protests on the streets of major capitals bemoaning a lack of Pioneer 1507. No reports of mass immigration to lands that do grow Pioneer 1507.
iv) Will Pioneer 1507 improve the diversity of EU farming? No.
v) Will Pioneer 1507 encourage a form of mono-agriculture? Yes.
vi) Who is going to benefit most from Pioneer 1507? The farmers? No. (see above) Consumers? No (see above). The agri-business? Yes. Today no market. Tomorrow the open plains of the EU are theirs for the taking.
vii) Is Pioneer 1507 going to improve the quality of food on offer in the EU? No. Pioneer 1507 was developed by scientists in a lab – hardly a key criteria for defining real food.
EU Perspectives does not envy Tonio Borg the European Health Commissioner – caught as he is between a lab technician in a white coat and an angry organic farmer – but a decision must be made one way or the other. But what, one wonders, will the decision rest on? Science on which there is no consensus or need?