HomeSafetyNew GMOs, deregulation in sight in the European Union?

New GMOs, deregulation in sight in the European Union?

On 16 March 2023, the environment ministers of the EU member states discuss the deregulation of the new GMOs, or NGT (New Genomic Techniques), NBT (New Breeding Techniques).

Friends of Earth Europe (FOEE), the largest network of European environmental organisations, denounces the influence of lobby di Big Ag on the European Commission and the dangers at hand.

1) New GMOs, techniques

The techniques di editing developed in the last 20 years to make the new GMOs aim to modify DNA quickly, low-cost and 'precise', according to those who support them. (1) Among these:

  • targeted mutagenesis. DNA mutations without insertion of new genetic material,
  • cisgenesis. Insertion of genetic material from plants of the same or closely related species,
  • intragenesis. Insertion of a combination of different sequences obtained from plants of the same species or from closely related species,
  • CRISPR-Cas9. The Cas9 enzyme is used like 'scissors', to cut the DNA and insert the desired mutation without introducing new genes. (2)

2) New GMOs, current rules e deregulation in sight

The Court of Justice European Union (EUCJ) already in 2018 had clarified that even the new GMOs (NBT, NTG) are subject in the EU to the same rules of risk assessment and prior authorization for deliberate release into the environment established for 'traditional' GMOs. (3)

The monopolists of pesticides and seeds (Big Ag, Big 4) have therefore organized themselves – also with the support of once unsuspected politicians such as Paolo De Castro, former minister of agriculture in Italy and former president of the Agri Commission in the European Parliament. (4)

2.1) The power of lobby

Corporate Europe Observatory and Friends of Earth note the investments of Big Ag in business of lobby in the Old Continent (5,6). Only in Brussels and Strasbourg, i.e. without considering what is not registered in the individual EU Member States, does it refer to:

  • €12 million/year for Bayer, BASF and Syngenta (2021). In addition to
  • € 1,7 million approximately in the lobby through Euroseeds, and
  • unspecified sums across various others partner such as Copa-Cogeca, FEFAC (European Feed Manufacturers' Federation) and Coceral (which represent among others ABCD, Archer-Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill, Dreyfus), etc.

The European Commission followed industry claims and requests to the letter Biotech, notes FOEE re-reading the contributions made by Euroseeds in the July public consultation on the subject.

2.2) No risk, no information on the label?

The new GMOs are presented by the European Commission as 'safe', in defiance of the risks highlighted in the scientific literature (1,4,7) and the official interpretation of the Court of Justice. (3) And their discipline should be aligned, according to Brussels, to that of non-GMO plants.

No information it should therefore be foreseen on the label of products that contain or are derived from the new GMOs (or NTG, NBT), in the desired di Big Ag. As already happens, violation of law, in the case of genetically modified endive. (8)

The new GMOs – with the same false rhetoric used at the beginning of the century for 'traditional' GMOs – are thus presented as the 'solution' to the problems of food security. With the further mockery, already denied by the facts, of the hypothetical possibility of reducing the use of pesticides and other agrotoxic substances. (9)

3) Civil society protests

'The European Commission let agribusiness lobbies dictate the consultation questionnaire, refusing to address concerns raised by farmers, retailers, consumers and environmental groups' (Mute Schimpf, FOEE).

Astrid Oesterreicher, EU Biotech Policy Advisor in Testbiotech, reiterates the need already expressed to the European Commission to guarantee the risk analysis of organisms derived from editing genomic (e.g. unintentional alterations. Kawall, 2021) for health and ecosystems. (10)

Eric Gall, deputy director and Policy Manager of IFOAM Organics Europe, points out that the equivalence of new GMOs (NTG, NBT) to conventional plants entails an unacceptable limitation of consumers' right to information and freedom of choice. (11)

4) Patents on plants

Corteva and Bayer-Monsanto – which alone already control 40% of the global seed market – are using the technique ofediting genomics to strengthen their monopoly on seeds and plants:

  • le Corporation patent the genetic information of plants that can result from interventions Biotech but also of course, claiming as their own all the plants that present these genetic traits as if they were their own inventions,
  • their monopoly is getting stronger and stronger and through patents they will be able to control our food and agriculture by limiting farmers' access to seeds. Corteva has already applied for 1430 patents on new GMOs while Bayer-Monsanto has applied for 119. (11)

5) Provisional conclusions

The only real solution to the problems of food security and climate change, as FAO (2019) has already recommended, is agroecology. (12) With attention to the recovery of native and resilient varieties, developed over the centuries in the individual areas.

Agroecology it is the model to which European policies must be directed – with good memory of the Biodiversity 2030 strategy, and of the failures of the European Court of Auditors (2020) to the previous management of biodiversity by the European Commission (13,14).

Enough! For further information, please refer toebook 'GMOs, the big scam'.

Dario Dongo and Alessandra Mei

Cover cartoon from Ysope (2013), Food guerrilla


(1) NBT, the dark side of the new editing techniques. Scientific review. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade)... 6.3.21
(2) EFSA (2022). FAQ: Criteria for risk assessment of plants produced by targeted mutagenesis, cisgenesis and intragenesis
(3) Dario Dongo, Giulia Torre. New GMOs, Alt from the EU Court. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 31.7.18
(4) Dario Dongo. GMO, the new empire that is advancing. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade)... 26.7.19
(5) Deraling EU rules on new GMOs. Corporate Europe Observatory. 29.3.21
(6) Revealed: How the agribusiness lobbysts ghot-write the EU's proposal on new GMOs. FOEE
(7) Dario Dongo, Riccardo Clerici, Silvia Comunian. New GMOs, it is essential to strengthen the risk analysis. Scientific review. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 14.6.20
(8) Dario Dongo. Endive GMO, the complaint of French farmers. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 16.1.20
(9) Dario Dongo. New GMOs at the service of agrotoxicants. Evidence of 9 in Monsanto's new GE corn. Petition. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 4.7.20
(10) Katharina Kawall (2021). The generic risks and the potential of SDN-1 applications in crop plants. Plants (Basel). 2021 Nov; 10(11): 2259. doi: 10.3390/plants10112259
(11) Exposed: How biotech giants use patents and new GMOs to control the future of food. FOEE 20.10.22
(12) Dario Dongo, Camilla Fincardi. Agroecology, SDGs, salvation. The FAO DecalogueGIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 12.4.20
(13) Dario Dongo, Giulia Torre. Special - EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, the plan announced in Brussels. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 31.5.20
(14) Dario Dongo, Marina De Nobili. CAP, pesticides and biodiversity. Report of the EU Court of Auditors. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 29.7.20

+ posts

Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

+ posts

Graduated in Law from the University of Bologna, she attended the Master in Food Law at the same University. You participate in the WIISE srl benefit team by dedicating yourself to European and international research and innovation projects.

Related Articles

Latest Articles

Recent Commenti

Translate »