Genetically modified organisms: a solution for the future?
- Parliamentary Assembly
- Text adopted by the
Standing Committee, acting on behalf of the Assembly, on 11 March
2011 (see Doc. 12531, report
of the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional
Affairs, rapporteur: Mr Le Grand).–
1 The use of genetically modified
organisms (GMOs) in agriculture continues to be a topic of debate,
and all the more so since the issue is not dealt with in the same
way from one country to another.
2 The Parliamentary Assembly notes the diversity of approaches
and of political and legal solutions, ranging from the American
approach based on "substantial equivalence" to the European approach
which hinges on the precautionary principle.
The Assembly also refers to the international standards and
treaties such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, the Codex
Alimentarius and the Convention on Access to Information, Public
Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental
Matters (Aarhus Convention), as well as its own Resolution 1419 (2005)
genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
4 The introduction of GMOs may hinder the capacity of species
to adapt and may disrupt relations between them, modifying the natural
balance of ecosystems.
5 GMOs may also give rise to hazards in health, environmental
and economic terms. Consequently, it is important to properly study
the impact of the coexistence of different forms of cultivation
(GMOs, conventional, agrobiological).
6 However, some experts stress that the development of GMOs
and genetically modified plants would help to develop competitive,
innovative and sustainable agriculture and protect the environment.
They also believe that GMOs could, to a certain degree, help boost
the green economy.
7 The Assembly nevertheless notes that there are numerous and
serious risks linked to GMOs in the farming and food sector and
draws attention to the need to use genetic engineering technology
responsibly and appropriately as a means of increasing agricultural
productivity in the world.
8 The Assembly is aware that many uncertainties remain as to
the consequences of the horizontal transfer, by viruses, of genetic
materials from GMO crops.
9 At the same time, it is clear that climate change is increasingly
threatening agricultural production owing to rising temperatures,
changes in rain cycles and more frequent flooding and drought, and
GMOs could, to a certain extent, provide a means of combating famine
and the food crisis.
Consequently, the Assembly recommends that Council of Europe
member and non-member states:
regulations to define good agricultural practice where the production
and use of GMOs are concerned;
10.2 establish documentary traceability, as prescribed in Regulation
(EC) No. 1830/2003 concerning the traceability and labelling of
genetically modified organisms and the traceability of food and
feed products produced from genetically modified organisms and amending
10.3 frame and harmonise policies in the fields of public information,
consultation and participation regarding the future of GMOs;
10.4 ban the cultivation of GMOs containing antibiotic-resistance
10.5 conduct studies to clarify the impact of the possible
transfer of genes from genetically modified crops to human beings;
10.6 seek to systematically protect biodiversity, particularly
in protected natural areas;
10.7 take the necessary steps to label products containing
GMOs or derived from animals fed with GMOs;
10.8 ensure that all expert studies and appraisals concerning
GMO issues are performed completely independently and transparently;
10.9 ensure the effective independence of European and national
health evaluation agencies.
11 The Assembly also recommends that the European Union guarantee
the right of its member states to decide whether or not to cultivate
genetically modified plants and, if such cultivations exist, to
establish GMO-free zones.