Science versus denial in European agriculture

With the European Court of Justice decision that categorized new plant breeding techniques (NBTs) as genetic modification now one year old, European research institutes launched an open letter calling for a modernized approach that would enable the region’s efforts to transition to more sustainable, less chemical-dependent agricultural systems.

Opposed to the 100 scientific research institutions plus are environmental NGOs, with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM-EU) joining anti-biotechnology groups Global 2000Slow Food InternationalIG Saatgut and Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL) in not only calling for immediate enforcement of the directive, but demanding the science community make significant investment in methods to detect the new engineered products that activists oppose.

Verband Lebensmittel ohne Gentechnik eV (VLOG), an anti-science group in Germany, echoed these demands. In a similar campaign, student researchers with Wageningen University sponsored a European Citizens’ Initiative calling for the European Commission to enact more legal definitions and clarity following the court’s ruling; the students offered proposals to update the GMO Directive’s exemption mechanism to ease regulations on products of NBTs.

The petition, which officially opened for signatures today, will continue for one year with the goal of acquiring one million signatures.