German traders have submitted a petition opposing the EU Commission's plan to change the legal framework for genetic engineering, which could allow products from the processes of new genetic engineering techniques to enter the markets without labelling.
According to a report in the online publication rundschau.de, leading companies in the European food trade, including major international brands and also German trading companies, have called on the EU Commission to retain the tried and tested regulation of all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the European market.
Genetic Engineering Reforms
A study by the European Commission on new genomic techniques found that New Genomic Technique (NGT) products can contribute to sustainable agri-food systems in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy.
The commission said that further policy action should aim at enabling NGT products to contribute to sustainability, while addressing concerns.
It also emphasised that the application of NGT in the agricultural sector should not undermine other aspects of sustainable food production, such as organic agriculture.
Commissioner for health and food safety, Stella Kyriakides, said," With the safety of consumers and the environment as the guiding principle, now is the moment to have an open dialogue with citizens, Member States and the European Parliament to jointly decide the way forward for the use of these biotechnologies in the EU."
No Need For Reforms
Elsewhere, Austria-based ARGE Gentechnikfrei believes there is no need for a change as the existing rules in EU genetic engineering legislation already allow for authorisation of plants after comprehensive safety testing and risk assessment and labelling of the genetically engineered products.
According to Florian Faber, managing director of the ARGE Gentechnikfrei, even partial deregulation of genetic engineering would mean disregarding the rapidly growing food quality standard 'Ohne Gentechnik' (produced without genetic engineering) across Europe.
"It would be in total contradiction to the Green Deal and Farm to Fork, which promise better, healthier, more sustainable food and more environmental and nature protection," he added.
In Austria alone, the 'Ohne Gentechnik' sector generates an estimated €1.5 billion per year. Germany generates more than €12 billion in retail sales through these products, which comprise more than 5% of the food products.