Thursday, 30 September 2010

Over 1 million voices for a GE-free future, but are we still millions of miles away?

Greenpeace is working together with Avaaz on invoking the citizen’s initiative to call for “a moratorium on the introduction of GE crops [GM crops] into Europe and set up an independent, ethical, scientific body to research the impact of GE crops and determine regulation.”

When I checked the petition again it was at 1,030,130, and the numbers are still rising quickly. But what are the chances that this will be successful? Furthermore, this only relates to growing GMOs in Europe, it does not cover the many other issues involved with GMOs such as the lack of labelling for food from GM fed animals, import of GM food products, GM pharmaceuticals and import of GM ingredients used in food production in Europe. But it would be a good start, if only ...

The above link to the citizen’s initiative will take you to the Consolidated Version of the Treaty of European Union which was signed on 7th February 1992 (even though it says 1092)! Article 11(4) allows for citizens direct input to the legal affairs of the European Union, but it is a qualified right as follows:

  1. Need at least one million people, this we clearly have.
  2. But, these people need to be European nationals, and
  3. They need to come from a significant number of Member States (MS). Since there are now 27 MS, I’m not sure just how many need to be represented. 10 is probably not acceptable, but would a simple majority suffice, or is it more like 24 that is needed?
  4. The initiative is only to request that the Commission make a proposal to change the law and only if this is within its powers.
  5. The purpose of this action must be to implement the Treaties.
  6. Although this initiative has been around for awhile, it seems that the procedures and conditions for this still have to be worked out in more detail! (see EU Policy (p 70)).
But these matters are only the beginning of the worries. The EU has already tried placing a moratorium on GMOs and found itself up against World Trade Organisation (WTO) complaints by Argentina, Canada and the US for raising trade barriers.  Add to all this the lobbying by transnational corporations and the initiative seems to lose its momentum.