420,000 signatures for the preservation of food without genetic engineering

- In front of the Federal Chancellery, exactly 420,757 signatures under the petition "Not behind our backs - no free pass for new genetic engineering in our food!" were handed over to Parliamentary State Secretary Bettina Hoffmann of the Federal Environment Ministry.

State Secretary for the Environment Bettina Hoffman receiving the signatures in front of the Federal Chancellery

Broad alliance from the environment, consumers, agriculture and food industry

The signatures had been collected by a broad alliance of organisations from environmental and consumer protection as well as the agricultural and food sectors. Peter Röhrig of the organic umbrella organisation Bund für Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft (BÖLW - Organic Food Industry Federation), Florian Schöne of the environmental umbrella organisation Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR - German League for Nature Conservation) and Georg Janssen of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL - Working Group for Rural Agriculture) emphasised the importance of GMO-free agriculture and food at the handover.

State Secretary pledges support

They appealed to the Federal Government not to allow the EU Commission to “dilute” the current law on genetic engineering. State Secretary for the Environment Bettina Hoffmann promised support from the Environment and Agriculture Ministries.

EU Commission under intense scrutiny

"The broad participation in the petition clarifies the intense public scrutiny the EU Commission is under and cannot and must not secretly erode the regulations on genetic engineering under any circumstances. Especially not in the form of an absurd 'deal’, that was recently rumored about, in which the EU Member States were promised a more lax approach towards genetic engineering in exchange for stricter regulations on pesticides," comments Alexander Hissting, Managing Director of the Verband Lebensmittel ohne Gentechnik (VLOG - Association Food without Genetic Engineering).

Environment and agriculture ministries support preservation of food without genetic engineering

"It is positive that the German environment and agriculture ministries are apparently not inclined to enter into such crooked deals, but, on the contrary, want to defend in Brussels the precautionary principle, transparency, freedom of choice and last but not lastly the GMO-free agriculture and food industry."

Research ministry leaning towards deregulation

The Federal Ministry of Research, on the other hand, has recently voiced its support for deregulation of new genetic engineering. However, the Ministry of Agriculture is in charge of this issue. Things will only become concrete when the EU Commission will table a proposal, probably in 2023. If the ministries do not reach an agreement, the German government would have to abstain in an EU vote.

BÖLW: Over 420,000 people demand freedom of choice and risk assessment (in German)

Agrarzeitung: BMEL wants strict approval procedures (subscription article) (in German)

TASPO: Genetic engineering: Research ministry open to new laws (in German)