VLOG survey: Distinct majority opposes lowering of EU GMO standards

- The EU Commission is planning to lower the standards for the approval and labelling of genetically modified plants and food. The German government should not support this, according to a distinct majority in a new VLOG survey.

58 percent of respondents in a representative Civey survey at the beginning of January 2023 opposed the German support for the EU Commission's plans to deregulate genetic engineering, only 25 percent were in favour, and just under 17 percent were undecided.

Encouraging statements by Lemke and Özdemir

"A strong majority wants Germany to oppose a lowering of EU genetic engineering standards. Consumers rightly want to know how the food they buy has been produced," comments Alexander Hissting, Managing Director of the Association Food without Genetic Engineering (VLOG). "I am pleased by the clear statements by German Environment Minister Lemke and Agriculture Minister Özdemir in this respect. Both must now also actively convey to their counterparts in other EU states that there must be no exceptions to genetic engineering risk assessment and labelling. There is no reason to lower standards anyway. Cem Özdemir rightly pointed out that research is not forbidden, even if advocates of genetic engineering often present it that way."

„Traffic Light“ dissent: Green and Red parties against deregulation, FDP (Liberals) in favour

The debate about genetic engineering and its legal regulation is getting louder in the approach to the International Green Week food fair in Berlin. At the Federal Environment Ministry's agricultural congress, Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) spoke out clearly against lowering genetic engineering standards. Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir (Greens), referring to announcements by biotech manufacturers, warned against relying on "promises of distant solutions" and made it clear that genetic engineering research is already permitted, even if this is often presented differently. Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Svenja Schulze of the coalition partner SPD (Social Democrats), declared in the German parliament (Bundestag) that genetic engineering does not contribute to feeding the world. Meanwhile, Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger of the second „Traffic Light“ coalition partner, the FDP (Liberals), and the opposition CDU (Christian Democrats) are loudly drumming up support for weakening the genetic engineering regulations with interviews, position papers and a Bundestag motion ahead of the International Green Week.

EU Commission's legislative proposal expected in early June

The background to the dispute and the VLOG survey is a legislative proposal by the EU Commission, which has been announced for the beginning of June, but will already be finalised in the next few weeks. According to all information so far, the EU Commission will propose a far-reaching deregulation of new genetic engineering methods such as CRISPR. Most of these genetically engineered plants could then be marketed without any risk assessment at all, or with a much weaker risk assessment. And the products would no longer be recognisable as genetic engineering, as they would no longer have to be labelled.

It will be of decisive importance how the EU Member States position themselves on this proposal of the EU Commission. Without their "qualified" majority, this lowering of genetic engineering standards cannot be implemented. In addition to the German government's own voting behaviour, it is therefore crucial how and with what intensity it exerts influence on other EU Member States in order to preserve the tried and tested genetic engineering regulations.