Challenges faced by organic agriculture
Organic agriculture and GMOs are two opposing concepts. Organic farming relies on locally adapted seeds integrated into a balanced ecosystem, while industrial agriculture promotes the use of identical seeds, usable worldwide with the help of chemicals in monoculture systems dedicated to agri-food companies. These two opposed agricultural models can hardly coexist, and the future of organic agriculture is at stake because of the increasing risk of contamination by GMOs of seeds, food or feed products. For the organic sector, it is increasingly difficult to remain GMO-free at a reasonable cost despite the polluter-pays principle, which is hardly implemented in the agriculture sector.
Current policy situation
On the 25th of July of 2018, the European Court of justice released a landmark decision stating that certain genetic engineering techniques with no long record of safety are GMOs and must be regulated as GMOs. This decision represents a first victory for the organic movement and its allies in the environmental movement. It is crucial now to ensure that this decision will be enforced by the European Commission.
The project ‘Keeping GMOs out of organic’ is the continuity of the project ‘Keeping GMOs out of food’ that started in 2014 and ended in July 2018. It aims to develop new practical strategies and to strengthen the current legal frameworks to protect the GMO-free food chain against GMO contamination on organic supply and entire food chain. The new project will have a specific focus on the regulation and identification of new genetic engineering techniques at the European level.
Within the framework of the project, a leaflet on New GMOs was developed by IFOAM EU. This document is intended for the general public and provided an overview on New GMOs, their impact and to highlight the position of the organic sector. It was translated on all 24 official European languages, here.
The project work consists of two pillars
- Strengthen GMO-free organic production by organising and supporting the organic movement in its effort to develop practical strategies to remain GMO-free and by facilitating the dialogue with the conventional GMO-free sector.
- Develop positions and coordinate advocacy work to maintain the ability of the organic sector to remain GMO-free.
IFOAM EU would like to thank the sponsors of the 'Keeping GMOs out of Organic' for kindly supporting the project.
What are the impacts of the coexistence of GMOs on European GMO-free agriculture? Read our study and find out!
How can farmers, food & feed processors avoid GMOs contaminations? Read our practical guidelines.
For further information, contact Martin Sommer: martin.sommer [at] ifoam-eu.org.