Farm Wars

GM floodgate to open? EU ministers back deal to let nations decide fate of crops

European Union governments have decided to let member states go their own way when it comes to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), allowing EU nations to either ban the crops or grow them as they see fit. The move ends years of legislative deadlock. At a meeting in Luxembourg, EU environment ministers from 26 out of 28 member states put their weight behind a 2010 proposal to give national governments an opt out from rules, making the 28-member bloc a single market for GMOs. Only Belgium and Luxembourg voted against it, although the final decision rests with the European Parliament, which is expected to endorse the plan, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. A political split in Europe between countries in favor of GMOs, such as Britain and Spain, and those firmly against them, including France, has delayed EU-wide permission to grow them. This has prompted complaints from trading partners – such as the US, where GMOs are legal – which are seeking to expand the global bio seed market, which is valued at almost US$16 billion a year. The law will accelerate EU level endorsements for requests from US companies like Monsanto to plant genetically altered crops, which have been cleared as safe by scientists working for the European Commission. “This is a real step forward in unblocking the dysfunctional EU process for approving GM crops, which is currently letting down our farmers and stopping scientific development,” said Owen Paterson, UK secretary of state for the environment.

The Gene Revolution, The Future of Agriculture: Dr. Thierry Vrain

Thierry Vrain retired 10 years ago after a long career as a soil biologist and ended head of a department of molecular biology running his own research program to engineer nematode resistance genes in crops. In his retirement career as a gardener he learned five or six years ago how the soil ecosystem really functions and have been preaching ever since. He find himself with a good knowledge of genetic engineering technologies surrounded by people in fear of being hurt by the food they eat. He found that he cannot ignore them anymore and has joined the campaign to educate consumers about the potential health problems reported in the recent scientific literature.