Index 
 Previous 
 Next 
 Full text 
Debates
Wednesday, 9 October 2019 - Brussels Revised edition

20. Authorization of GMOs (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
MPphoto
 

  President. – The next item is the debate on the Commission statement on authorisation of GMOs (2019/2849(RSP)).

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this debate. This discussion is timely as tomorrow this House will vote on draft resolutions objecting to the authorisation of two new genetically modified maize varieties and the renewal of an authorisation for a genetically modified soya bean, all for food and feed use.

First let me state clearly: the European Union authorisation system for authorisation of genetically modified organisms has been established by European Union law. Through such legislation the Commission has received from the Council and Parliament a delegation of power to implement the system, but with little or no margin for manoeuvre.

The Commission is bound to apply the law and Parliament can only expect the Commission to respect European Union law. Respect for the rule of law is a guarantee of fundamental rights and freedom within the EU and no institution should be blamed for abiding by the law.

This does not mean that the Commission does not hear or listen to concerns and it is important to understand all of them, as some are very important. This is why at the beginning of this mandate this Commission proposed to the Council and Parliament to change the legislation on GMOs, in particular in light of the numerous objections voted on by the European Parliament. Unfortunately the last Parliament rejected the Commission’s proposal, without suggesting any amendment. This was clearly a lost opportunity and at the same time a clear instruction to the Commission to continue applying the existing law. This is what we have done.

Second, the existing European Union law establishes a system which is science-based and relies on a scientific assessment performed by the European Food Safety Authority, independently of the Commission. Both the quality and the independence of the European Food Safety Authority ensure that human and animal health and the environment are protected within the European Union at a high level with little equivalent worldwide.

The Commission only proposes to authorise genetically modified organisms when the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has confirmed their safety for humans, animals and the environment. In relation to the authorisations to be voted on tomorrow, EFSA has concluded that they are as safe as their non-genetically modified comparators with respect to the potential effects on human and animal health and the environment.

As foreseen in European Union law, the Member States voted in these proposals for authorisation in the Standing Committee. However, the vote showed no qualified majority in favour of or against the approvals. In accordance with the rules on comitology, as adopted by the co-legislators, Parliament and the Council, and the Regulation on genetically modified food and feed, the Commission presented the draft decisions to the Appeal Committee, where again no opinion was reached.

I would like to make it clear here that, under European Union law, without such an opinion the Commission needs to take a decision alone. It does not have the luxury of having no opinion. It is not the Commission’s possibility. What is also sometimes frustrating is that Member States vote behind closed doors and the Commission is not entitled to disclose individual Member State’s vote. Here again, this Commission has considered the situation where Member States hide behind the Commission as very disappointing and unsatisfactory.

For that reason, the Commission has proposed to both the Council and Parliament to modify European Union legislation on comitology, so as to ensure more transparency. Unfortunately, little progress has been made on this proposal and I regret this situation because making the Commission a scapegoat can be harmful to Europe.

Overall, I hope I have demonstrated that the Commission has processed the applications for these GMOs in full compliance with the procedures set out by the co-legislators and that the Commission has fulfilled its duty.

Allow me to recall that the right of scrutiny of the European Parliament concerns the questions of whether the draft implementing act exceeds the implementing powers provided for in the basic acts. This is clearly not the case. The Commission has faithfully implemented the EU law, and therefore I fail to see the legal assessment that would justify the planned objectives. I would be interested to hear on which legal grounds the objection could be based.

Finally, let me conclude by stating the obvious. Genetically modified organisms are a sensitive issue. Citizens and Members of this Parliament have very strong and diverse views, not based solely on science. Some have concerns: there is a real and serious need to discuss which concerns can be considered as legitimate. Legitimate concerns are a very important area and it would be good to know from Parliament’s side, what does it mean by ‘legitimate concerns’.

At the same time, European Union agriculture is highly dependent on imports of genetically modified feed and this is simply a fact that cannot be ignored or dismissed, and we know that Member States that always abstain, they know that. It is important, therefore, to move away from sterile fights. Blame-games between EU institutions can only fuel Euroscepticism.

I would call for an open, honest and genuine discussion on our agricultural model, including its sustainability. I genuinely hope this can happen in the future, perhaps as part of the Green Deal and as a new Farm to Fork strategy.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jessica Polfjärd, för PPE-gruppen. – Herr ordförande! Vi vill alla i detta parlament att vi ska minska utsläppen och att vi ska värna miljön och klimatet. Då behöver vi också fundera på hur odling kan bli mer effektiv. I detta sammanhang kommer växtförädlingen att spela en viktig roll, oavsett vad våra politiska motståndare tycker.

Jag kan bara konstatera att Efsa har gjort en riskbedömning av dessa grödor och kommit fram till att de inte är farligare än sina konventionella motsvarigheter. Det är den bedömning som kommissionen har lyssnat på, och därför har man inte heller överträtt sitt mandat.

Den centrala frågan är: Ska vi lyssna på vetenskapen eller ska vi inte lyssna på vetenskapen? Då måste jag fråga dem som är emot detta förslag: Vad är det då vi ska lyssna på om vi inte tror och tilltror den vetenskap och det utlåtande som Efsa har gjort?

Jag kan inte annat än beklaga att man verkar strunta i det. Vi tycker att detta fortsatt är en viktig fråga för klimatet och hur vi ska kunna odla i framtiden.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Günther Sidl, im Namen der S&D-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident! Für mich ist es grundsätzlich unverständlich, dass man gentechnisch veränderte Produkte nach Europa importieren lässt, wo ein Gesundheitsrisiko für unsere Bürgerinnen und Bürger nicht völlig ausgeschlossen werden kann. In diesen konkreten Fällen handelt es sich ja um Futtermittel aus herbizidresistenten Pflanzen, die oftmals mit viel zu viel Unkrautbekämpfungsmittel behandelt wurden.

Die heutige Diskussion bietet außerdem die Gelegenheit, sich nochmals auf die Aussagen der Kommissionspräsidentin Von der Leyen zu berufen, die auch von der designierten Gesundheitskommissarin bekräftigt wurden, nämlich dass Entschließungen, die eine Mehrheit dieses Parlaments finden, in den künftigen Entscheidungen der Kommission berücksichtigt werden. Ich bin gespannt, ob diese Aussagen Gültigkeit haben, sollten wir morgen und in Zukunft Gentechnikimporte hier im Haus ablehnen. Das wäre ein echter Fortschritt.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jan Huitema, namens de Renew-Fractie. – Voorzitter, geachte Commissaris, wij als nieuwe Renew-Fractie zijn helemaal niet tegen ggo’ als techniek. In sommige gevallen zijn we juist voor het gebruik van ggo’s. We willen binnenkort dan ook een grote inhoudelijke discussie hebben over de toepassing van ggo’s, de risico's en de mogelijke potentie van het gebruik van ggo's. Ikzelf ben het ook niet eens met dit bezwaar omdat ik vind dat de Europese Commissie haar werk helemaal niet verkeerd gedaan heeft. Vindt u dat de uitkomst anders zou moeten zijn, dan is dat de taak van de wetgever – onder andere wij hier – om de wetgeving aan te passen en de Commissie een andere opdracht te geven.

Hoeveel bezwaren hebben we nu al gehad hieromtrent? Misschien al wel 40. Ik vind dat een inflatie van dit politieke instrument. Waar ik me zorgen over maak is dat de conclusies van EFSA steeds in twijfel getrokken worden. En waarom maak ik me daar zorgen over? Omdat ik het heel belangrijk vind dat we een objectieve scheidsrechter hebben die wetenschappelijk gaat kijken of iets gevaarlijk is of niet. Dat hebben we als politici juist besloten om te voorkomen dat we hier in dit Parlement een politiek welles-nietesspelletje krijgen over bijvoorbeeld chemische bestrijdingsmiddelen en ggo’s.

Ik zou jullie als collega’s dus graag willen oproepen om het negatief beoordelen van een scheidsrechter maar op een voetbalveld te doen, maar er echt voor te zorgen dat we een hele betrouwbare Europese Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit hebben omdat we anders gewoon helemaal niet meer met zaken vooruit komen.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Tilly Metz, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, I would like to thank the Commissioner for his speech. We have heard these points many times, but the fact is that these crops are not safe. The three GMO crops we are objecting to have been modified to be tolerant to several herbicides, one of which is toxic for reproduction and no longer authorised in the European Union. This means ever increasing quantities of herbicide during cultivation, and a higher level of residues on the imported crops. This is dangerous and a vicious circle that is simply ignored by the European Food Safety Association (EFSA) and the Commission.

The same goes for the devastating impact on health and biodiversity in the countries of cultivation. We finally need to stop this insanity, not support it through new authorisation. The last Parliament said ‘no’ to GMOs 36 times; tomorrow this new Parliament will hopefully adopt a strong ‘no’. The crucial question is this: will the Commissioner hear us for his decision?

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Silvia Sardone, a nome del gruppo ID. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, in questi anni abbiamo visto davvero di tutto: carne agli ormoni, alimenti provenienti da OGM nocivi e tutti i tipi di schifezze varie. A questi, ovviamente, vanno aggiunti tutti i prodotti taroccati: il finto parmigiano, i finti salumi, le finte mozzarelle dalle dubbie provenienze. Per il vantaggio economico di pochi si rischia di penalizzare la salute alimentare di tutti. Penso che la sicurezza alimentare e la coltivazione di prodotti di qualità debbano essere sempre una priorità, soprattutto per noi, qua in Europa, e per questo mandato.

Ritengo però assurdo che la nuova Commissione gestisca in questo modo il tema. In generale non ritengo corretto che ventinove persone in una stanza decidano per più di 500 milioni di cittadini. Che cosa succede? Il Parlamento dice di no ad un OGM, la commissione ENVI dice di no, il comitato di esperti degli Stati membri non produce alcun parere e alla fine che cosa succede? La Commissione se ne frega e l'OGM continua ad essere utilizzato in maniera opaca. In pratica, un burocrate a Bruxelles, chiuso in un ufficio di una Direzione generale Agricoltura o Salute decide per tutti. È davvero assurdo!

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Anthea McIntyre, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, Greta Thunberg’s message on climate change is ‘I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists’. And everyone agrees: listen to the science. When we see a falling—off in the number of parents having their children vaccinated, we say ‘protect your children; listen to the science’. But when it comes to GM maize or GM soya bean, the objectors are saying ‘ignore the science’. These three objections call for us to ignore science. They make spurious assertions about the excessive use of glyphosate, but EFSA’s GMO panel in all three cases found no safety concerns for human consumption. In line with scientific evidence, both EFSA and ECHA produced favourable opinions.

The draft measures are in accordance with the legal processes specified in Regulation No 1829/2003. These processes ensure that approved GM products are as safe as their conventional counterparts. We are in danger of undermining the legitimacy of the entire EU regulatory system by continually questioning the objectivity and authority of scientific evidence; by continually rubbishing the science. GM for food use is limited, but there is EU—wide dependency on GM for protein crops for use in animal feeds. We need to get this done. The EU has to decide whether we accept science or not.

(Applause in some quarters)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Anja Hazekamp , namens de GUE/NGL-Fractie. – Voorzitter, terwijl de Amazone in brand staat, wil de Commissie opnieuw genetisch gemanipuleerde mais- en sojavarianten toestaan. Ironisch, want het regenwoud wordt juist gekapt om plaats te maken voor precies deze genetisch gemanipuleerde mais en soja. Alleen maar om de Europese honger naar veevoer te stillen. Deze mais- en sojavarianten zijn bestand tegen het landbouwgif glyfosaat en glufosinaat. Glyfosaat is volgens de wetenschap waarschijnlijk kankerverwekkend. Glufosinaat is in Europa verboden, omdat het de voortplanting schaadt. Beide zijn ronduit funest voor de biodiversiteit. Door deze mais en soja te importeren brengt de Commissie de gezondheid van mensen en ecosystemen in de exporterende landen in gevaar.

Stop deze toelatingen! U hoeft de multinationals niet langer hun zin te geven. Uw verantwoordelijkheid is niet naar Bayer, Syngenta en Dow Chemicals, maar naar de burgers en de toekomst van de planeet.

Voorts ben ik van mening dat de Europese landbouwsubsidies moeten worden afgeschaft.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Marco Dreosto (ID). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, quella contro gli OGM non è solo una battaglia salutista ed ambientalista, ma anche etica, cara collega. La salvaguardia dei prodotti tipici delle colture tradizionali e storiche potrà, da un lato, preservare le biodiversità e, dall'altro, dare al mondo agricolo e rurale una nuova energia economica e fonte di reddito. La coltivazione di colture OGM favorisce poi lo sviluppo di un'agricoltura industriale, basata sulle monocolture, dove specie viventi stanno scomparendo ad un ritmo di mille volte superiore a quello naturale.

Il Parlamento europeo nell'ultima legislatura – lo abbiamo detto – ha approvato circa 36 obiezioni agli OGM e nonostante ciò la Commissione continua ad autorizzarli, pur non avendo nessun obbligo di farlo. La nuova Commissione europea, attiva sul Green Deal, dimostrerà il suo impegno con atti concreti solamente se ascolterà fin da subito questo Parlamento, non autorizzando l'importazione di prodotti contenenti OGM che comporterebbero, come in questo caso, lo abbiamo detto, un maggiore uso di erbicidi e di conseguenza una maggiore quantità di residui nel raccolto.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Tudor Ciuhodaru (S&D). – Domnule președinte, primum non nocere, în primul rând nu fă rău, este un vechi dicton medical, iar eu sunt medic, medic de urgență, așa că atât timp cât ne găsim în fața unui produs care nu este verificat și ridică mari semne de întrebare în ceea ce privește eficiența și siguranța alimentară, lucrurile sunt mai presus de orice fel de dubiu. Mi se pare de altfel ipocrită compararea cu vaccinurile, soluții medicamentoase folosite de zeci de ani care și-au dovedit eficacitatea în contextul unor epidemii preexistente, cu ceva nou introdus pe piață, pe care nu-l știe nimeni, nu l-a verificat nimeni și care nu previne nicio catastrofă în acest moment. Sau poate îmi spuneți mie, este vreo epidemie legată de insecticide?

În aceste condiții, cred că trebuie mare prudență în ceea ce vrem să facem. Criteriile etice, criteriile medicale ne spun să ne uităm cu foarte mare atenție pentru ca acel pact ecologic să nu rămână doar o vorbă goală și o Europă verde să nu fie doar istorie. Vă cer să analizăm cu mare atenție și astfel de soluții să nu treacă niciodată, pentru că atât timp cât există vreun risc pentru viața cetățenilor europeni, noi, cei trimiși aici în mod democratic, trebuie să ne opunem. Vă mulțumesc.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Eleonora Evi (NI). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, sul tema degli OGM in Europa non c'è democrazia e questo Parlamento lo ha denunciato più volte nelle sue 36 risoluzioni votate a larghissima maggioranza nella scorsa legislatura. Lo diceva anche il Presidente Juncker, che cinque anni fa aveva promesso di rivedere il processo decisionale. Una promessa mancata, visto che nulla è cambiato.

Gli Stati non si mettono d'accordo, non decidono né sì né no. Quelli per il no sollevano dei dubbi legittimi sulla sicurezza degli OGM per la salute umana e per l'ambiente. La palla però passa alla Commissione che, stando alle regole attuali, procede sempre ad autorizzare nuovi OGM, calpestando però di fatto la volontà di questo Parlamento e quella di milioni di cittadini contrari agli OGM e calpestando il principio di precauzione, per l'ennesima volta.

Signor Commissario, così facendo noi stiamo mettendo a dura prova la tenuta delle istituzioni europee e la fiducia dei cittadini. Lo ha detto anche lei. Ma è compito della Commissione europea, che ha l'iniziativa legislativa, rendere finalmente trasparente e democratico questo processo.

 
  
 

(End of catch-the-eye procedure)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, honourable Members, colleagues, I am very happy to listen to you, and especially let me react to the last speech by Madame Evi.

As you know, Jean—Claude Juncker’s promise was realised. The Commission proposed changes in GMO law to the European Parliament twice, and Parliament decided to reject it – not showing a willingness to cooperate and see which amendments would be better.

Now you are once again repeating the situation on what was delivered by the Commission. The proposals offer the possibility to change the rules on standing committees – speaking about transparency and democracy and, of course, the rule of law.

We are all obliged under the rule of law.

Now, I’m listening to Amazon issues, to different views. OK. But these are not about the substance and, concretely speaking, about the authorisation of cases which are under strict rule of law conditions.

The Commission has no chance to deviate from the rule of law.

Thank you once again. I only want to reiterate a few important points of principle.

EU institutions should look for common approaches and solutions, not fight each other. This will only help to fuel – as I mentioned before – conflicts in society, and Euroscepticism.

GMOs are a most difficult and very decisive topic, but the Commission today has no choice but to implement existing European Union legislation. The Commission proposed to modify this legislation. I fully regret the situation now, but this is Parliament’s responsibility, because Parliament decided to reject our proposal.

You cannot fully ignore science in our decisions on human health, environmental protection and food safety. We should base our decisions on science, not only on public opinion. I know – speaking about legitimate concerns – that it’s very important to discuss these issues, but we need to know what ‘legitimate concerns’ mean, and not only to put the blame on the Commission.

I invite you all to reflect about a sustainable future for European Union agriculture in the light of concerns for the environment, but also on the importance of having fresh, nutritious and healthy food produced in Europe at affordable prices.

European Union food should not be reserved only for its wealthiest citizens. We need to understand, social, economic, and other consequences. We need to be very careful.

I once again see only one way: to follow the law, to follow science and to really create a good environment in our debates about legitimate concerns, describing what legitimate concerns mean. Then maybe we will see how we can continue in changing our laws, and so on.

The law is the law and the Commission will follow the law as it is.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – The debate is closed.

Written statements (Rule 171)

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Edina Tóth (PPE), írásban. – Az elmúlt években nagymértékben fejlődtek és egyre nagyobb teret kapnak az új biotechnológiai eljárások, többek között a gén- és genomszerkesztés. Ezzel párhuzamosan a világon mindenhol elterjedtek a géntechnológiával módosított takarmánynövények, amelyek hatással lehetnek a biodiverzitásra, nagyban hozzájárulnak a növényvédőszer-rezisztenciához és a genetikailag módosított organizmusok bekerülnek a természetes környezetbe. Fontos kiemelni, hogy az Eurobarometer jelentése szerint az európai lakosok több mint fele az ismeretlen kockázatok miatt jelentős aggodalmat táplál a génmódosított élelmiszerekkel szemben. Úgy gondolom, az Európai Unió számára kiemelten fontos kell, hogy legyen a jövő nemzedéke számára az egészséges alapanyagokhoz való hozzáférés biztosítása.

Magyarország számára stratégiai kérdés a géntechnológiával módosított szervezetekkel kapcsolatos tevékenységek szabályozása. Hazánk GMO-mentes stratégiájával, az Alaptörvénnyel, valamint az elővigyázatosság elvével összhangban kívánjuk megőrizni Magyarország genetikailag módosított előlényektől mentes mezőgazdaságát, így biztosítva a jó minőségű, biztonságos és egészséges élelmiszerek előállítását.

 
Last updated: 20 December 2019Legal notice