June 14, 2014

EU Set to Gut GMO Regulation and Democracy


This week the European Council voted to change the process by which EU member states can opt out of authorizing cultivation within their territories of GMO crops authorized by the Commission. The change heavily weights the process in favor of the cartel and bureaucracy and against the people.
As things are now, whether or not a GMO which has been authorized for cultivation in the EU (as of this writing, only MON810 maize, though Commission approval for 1507 maize seems imminent) is allowed in a particular member state is a matter of that country’s normal political process. The result of this relatively accountable system is that MON810 has been banned in ten European countries and is widely grown only in Spain.
Under the new system, the main power over the opt-out process will be in the hands of a country’s unaccountable bureaucracy, which is far more likely to support the GMO prerogative than a European legislature. It’ll be up to the bureaucracy to take proactive action during the initial application stage and jump through several hoops in order to lay the groundwork for the government to then ban the GMO. If the bureaucracy fails to do this, the government’s hands are tied. The system also sets up a legalistic catch-22 in that member states must agree to accept EFSA rubber-stamping where it comes to human, livestock, and environmental safety, while basing their national bans only on socioeconomic, planning, or cultural concerns. These, of course, are the kinds of concerns which are banned by the WTO, which on the other hand in theory does have to allow the safety exceptions. So the goal is to render all rationales legally invalid one way or another. States must also waive all right to redress in the inevitable event of contamination.
Meanwhile, a state which goes through this rigmarole would also be forestalled from voting against EU-wide approval for the GMO. The result of all this is that everything rubber-stamped by the EFSA would automatically glide to EU-wide approval, and any state which wanted to allow any GMO would have license to go ahead. The UK government, hysterical to authorize GM crops and frustrated by both the EU and rejection by Scotland and Wales, has spearheaded this whole campaign.
Of course all of this is typical of what happens when a nation surrenders its sovereignty to any kind of alien bureaucracy. I’ve written before about how, from the point of view of the European Commission, the goal of the TTIP is to radically mitigate the extent to which European politics which can still affect the corporate economy.
But as we see here the Commission’s doing what it can to work with what it has right now. If this policy goes through it’ll gut the democratic oversight the peoples of Europe now have over whether GMOs are cultivated in their own lands. (Their NIMBYism in importing a huge amount of GM feed from Latin America and elsewhere is a different problem.)
I wrote more on this here and here.


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