Independent Scientists Slam EC GMO Draft Regulations

Letters to the Editor | March 2, 2010, Tuesday // 14:56 was exclusively supplied the below protest letter by the anti-GMO campaign group GM Free Cymru. It is from a group of respected independent scientists to the European Parliament President, Jerzy Buzek.

22 February 2010.

Dear Professor Buzek,

Formal Protest from Scientists: Commission Regulation on Implementing Rules for GM applications and assessments

We write to you as a group of concerned European scientists. Purely by chance, we have found a new Draft EC Regulation (1) on the WTO web site, and we respectfully ask you (a) to take this as a formal protest relating to the content of that regulation, and (b) to bring this protest to the attention of the full Parliament at the earliest opportunity.

We gather that this Regulation has been drafted by the Commission with great secrecy , submitted to the WTO under its conformity assessment procedure, and is due to be brought into law in May of this year without any consultation with the public, NGOs or consumer groups, and even without discussion among the "competent authorities" who are responsible for GMO risk management in the various countries of the EU. That causes us very great concern, even though the Commission might have followed the correct procedures for bringing in an "Implementing Regulation".

Having undertaken a quick analysis of the Draft Regulation (which is long enough at 66 pages to require protracted examination!), we see a number of significant and worrying trends. It appears to us, at the outset, that this document is designed to speed up the regulatory/approvals process, in response to pressure from the US administration and the WTO. It also appears to represent a step along the way towards "harmonisation" or "synchronisation" of the approvals process on both sides of the Atlantic, by building in a whole range of measures which will ease the way for "simpler" and cheaper applications to come forward. This is to the considerable benefit of the multinational corporations, especially with respect to their plans for a new generation of "stacked" GM varieties, but we fear that it pays scant regard to the safety of animals and human beings, or to the protection of the environment.

What we see in this Draft Reg document is a further move away from sound, independent science (and evidence-based policy) and a lurch towards a formal acceptance of a ruling hypothesis -- namely that GM crops and foods are harmless. There are few signs of checks and balances in the system as it is outlined, and hardly any options for the replication of scientific experiments. Since non-replicable science MUST be considered unreliable and even fraudulent, this is a move towards connivance in fraud. And that, in our view, is a very serious matter.

We have a whole range of detailed comments on the text of the Draft Regulation, which we are happy to submit to you.

It is our firm belief that in this Draft Regulation the Commission far exceeds its implementing powers, as indicated in our Annex, for the most part through subtle changes of wording, and sometimes through omissions and explanations which are distorted. There are a number of new assumptions about GM safety which are NOT scientifically justified. There are also many policy changes which should have no place in an Implementing Regulation. The Draft Regulation fails to take account of the extensive recent literature relating to the harmful effects of GM, and it must therefore be redrafted.

We gather that this Draft Regulation will shortly come before Parliament and Council for approval. We urge you, in view of the very great importance of this matter, to refuse approval and to insist upon an extended period of consultation, during which due consideration can be given (a) to any detailed comments you have received relating to the full text of the document, and (b) to the 16 vital scientific issues which we have raised in this letter.

We look forward to your confirmation that the draft text of this Regulation will be rejected, and the reconsidered and amended to take account of these valid concerns. We do not accept that this cannot be done at this late stage in the process, since the process is entirely under your control.

We hope to hear from you in the near future. We are also sending this protest to your colleague Mr Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Brian John

Dr Jose Ramon Olarieta

Prof Brian Wynne

Dr Mae-wan Ho

Prof Jose L. Domingo

Prof Bob Orskov

Prof. Enric Tello

Dr Eva Novotny

Dr Irina Ermakova

Dr Naheeda Portocarero

Dr Arpad Pusztai

Prof Marcello Buiatti

Dr Susan Bardocz

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