Wednesday, January 28, 2015

New EU Legislation Would Let European Union Member States Ban a Gene-Engineered Crop

It violates the spirit of the World Trade Organization agreements.

It upends the status of science as the neutral arbiter.

Nonetheless, I am optimistic about the new legislation in the European Union that will give member states the power to ban gene-engineered crops (GMOs) for various social and policy reasons. The legislation was approved by the European Parliament is expected to be approved by the European Council.

Up to now, GMOs are banned only for health and safety concerns. Under the future rules even after the European Food Safety Authority has found a GMO safe, members states may ban the GMO in their territory, “based on a wide range of reasons such as: environmental or agricultural policy objectives, town and country planning, land use, socio-economic impacts, avoidance of GMO presence in other products, or public policy, to name a few.”

I am optimistic this law will help clean up a polluted scientific communication environment. No longer will it be necessary to distort the facts and magnify the risks to justify a ban.

Perhaps we are already seeing some refreshing honesty as a result. The Scottish government has recently asserted its opposition to planting of GMOs. The reasons:
1. “[T]here is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers.”
2. "To grow GM crops in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand.”

You have to respect that. No disingenuous framing. No wildly implausible theories. Just preference and protection of marketing.