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"Now they are examining the cost implications in setting thresholds, which is welcome; it is important that the Commission makes workable rules that minimize disturbance and cost to farmers, allowing the practical co-existence of different methods of agricultural production," says Simon Barber.

1) http://europa.eu.int/rapid/start/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt=gt&doc=MEMO/02/100|0|RAPID&lg=EN

2) Life Sciences and Biotechnology - a strategy for Europe http://europa.eu.int/comm/biotechnology/pdf/policypaper_en.pdf

3) http://www.isaaa.org/

4) An agronomic and economic assessment of GM oil seed rape published by the Canola Council of Canada can be found http://www.canola-council.org under growers manual

5) Commission Press Release 8 October 2001-

http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/press/2001/pr0810en.html

 

A new report from the European Commissionfs Joint Research Centre (JRC), as commissioned by the Agriculture Directorate-General, now available at http://www.jrc.cec.eu.int/GECrops/, explores scenarios for the co-existence of genetically modified, conventional and organic crops in European agriculture.

 

CO-EXISTENCE OF GM CROPS WITH CONVENTIONAL AND ORGANIC CROPS

Joint Research Centre

http://www.jrc.cec.eu.int/default.asp?sIdSz=our_work&sIdStSz=focus_on

 

Today in AgBioView: May 23, 2002

* GM and organics can co-exist in Europe - EC

* Insuring Organic Risks

* CO-EXISTENCE OF GM CROPS WITH CONVENTIONAL AND ORGANIC CROPS

* Greenmailing the Government 

* Greens take their GE bat and ball and go home 

* BLAIR TO WARN OFF GM, ANIMAL RIGHTS PROTESTERS

* FOOD SAFETY ON THE FARM

* Biotech Clobbers Chemical Market

 

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GM and organics can co-exist in Europe - EC  

EuropaBio press release

May 22, 2002

 

The European Commission released a report today (22 May) by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) which examines purported implications of the co-existence of traditional and organic systems of agricultural production with increased production of genetically modified crops in Europe.

The report found different farming systems could co-exist with a minimal impact on farming practices if practical, workable and realistic thresholds were agreed upon.

Some of the scenarios and assumptions made in the study suggest that further introduction of GM crop production in Europe could raise the cost of traditional and organic growers because of the incidence of adventitious presence of GM material.

However, the report's authors state that the key findings around levels of adventitious presence of GM material in other crops "have to be taken with care, since the models are not yet fully validated." Other assumptions regarding cooperation among farmers, application of normal farming practices, and rates of GM production are only estimates, since wide scale GM production does not exist in Europe.

In reality, GM crop production can co-exist with other systems, as long as reasonable standards of purity are developed. "The report shows that realistic allowances would minimise costs and disturbance to all farmers," says Simon Barber, Director of the Plant Biotechnology Unit at EuropaBio - the European Bioindustries Association.

The report confirms that for different farming systems to co-exist with a minimal impact on farming practices, legislators need to set reasonable thresholds for GM material found in non GM crops. Purity thresholds are common in agriculture. For example, standards for organic food production allow up to 5% non-organic material in "organic" food, and up to 30% non-organic ingredients in a product that may still be labelled as having organic ingredients.

EuropaBio is asking for thresholds considerably below the 5% mark. Similar thresholds exist in traditional agricultural production for a wide range of substances. Such thresholds allow different systems of production to co-exist, satisfying a wide range of consumer choice.

Some environmental organisations are demanding even lower thresholds than those proposed by the European Commission. "Such groups should be aware that there are costs involved," says Simon Barber, "For farmers to achieve 100% purity on their farms they would have to isolate their crops along 'quarantine' lines. Zero tolerance of alternative farming systems is simply an extreme position that would create havoc for farmers."

The JRC report shows that it would be extremely difficult for European seed producers and farmers to meet the unrealistically low threshold levels, and that if taken to the extreme, the costs would be prohibitive.

This report confirms what EuropaBio has been calling for namely that practical, workable and realistic thresholds must be agreed so that GM farming can co-exist alongside other farming systems (an aim set out in the Commission's strategy for life sciences and biotechnology). "One farming system should not be able to exclude another - farmers also have a right to choose," explains Simon Barber.

However, the report fails to account for the farming pattern which would likely result from the introduction of GM farming in European agriculture.  Many so-called conventional farmers will produce GM crops. These will be especially concentrated in areas where there is an economic benefit of a particular trait, and will not be spread in an even, theoretical manner across all regions of production.

In its calculations, the report neither takes account of the benefits of GM farming on the environment or on farmers' incomes. Research is increasingly showing that farmers who use new GM technologies are reporting lower costs due to less spraying and reduced energy use.  Furthermore, the increase in yields as well as the possibility to produce higher value crops in future is actually helping to increase farm incomes.

These benefits are real and the reason why farmers have adopted GM technologies so rapidly. The JRC report shows that the European Commission is taking the use of GM technologies in Europe very seriously. Fifteen years of European research on the safety of GM crops financed by the European Commission led them to conclude that because of the more precise technology and stricter controls, GM crops are at least as safe as conventional ones.

"Now they are examining the cost implications in setting thresholds, which is welcome; it is important that the Commission makes workable rules that minimize disturbance and cost to farmers, allowing the practical co-existence of different methods of agricultural production," says Simon Barber.

1) http://europa.eu.int/rapid/start/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt=gt&doc=MEMO/02/100|0|RAPID&lg=EN

2) Life Sciences and Biotechnology - a strategy for Europe http://europa.eu.int/comm/biotechnology/pdf/policypaper_en.pdf

3) http://www.isaaa.org/

4) An agronomic and economic assessment of GM oil seed rape published by the Canola Council of Canada can be found http://www.canola-council.org under growers manual

5) Commission Press Release 8 October 2001-

http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/press/2001/pr0810en.html

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Date:       Wed, 22 May 2002 15:25:08 -0500

From:      "Andrew Apel" <agbionews@earthlink.net> 

To:          agbioworld@yahoo.com 

Subject:   Insuring Organic Risks

 

Colleagues,

 

A new report from the European Commissionfs Joint Research Centre (JRC), as commissioned by the Agriculture Directorate-General, now available at http://www.jrc.cec.eu.int/GECrops/, explores scenarios for the co-existence of genetically modified, conventional and organic crops in European agriculture. In introducing that report, the JRC says:

gIn general, organic farms face higher costs, especially indicative insurance cost, than conventional farms.h

Typically, higher insurance cost is associated with higher risk. Does anyone out there have a concrete explanation for this?

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CO-EXISTENCE OF GM CROPS WITH CONVENTIONAL AND ORGANIC CROPS

Joint Research Centre

http://www.jrc.cec.eu.int/default.asp?sIdSz=our_work&sIdStSz=focus_on

 

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