GMO Optout MaltaFriends of the Earth Malta welcomes the recent decision by the Maltese Government to avail itself of an opt-out clause on growing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Malta. This is a positive step forward which reflects the Government’s previous votes on GMOs at EU level.

Outright rejection of genetically modified (GM) crops snowballed across Europe, as governments or regions from most European countries, take political steps to ensure their countries are GM-free.

Martin Galea De Giovanni, Director of Friends of the Earth Malta said: “There has never been a clearer signal that GMOs, and the companies that make them, are not wanted in Europe. The technology is not only risky, it’s redundant. People, and the governments that represent them, are rejecting them outright.”

Friends of the Earth groups around Europe are critical of the deeply flawed, undemocratic mechanism for applying for national bans on GMOs. Countries wishing to ban GMOs must send their application to the European Commission. Their case is then reviewed by the biotech companies that produce GMOs, like Monsanto, Syngenta and Pioneer, who then accept or reject the bans.

It’s Kafkaesque that the companies who profit from GMOs should be given jurisdiction over democratically-agreed decisions to ban GMOs. Corporate profits should not be put before people, and the interests of Europe's food and farming sectors. The democratic decision of countries to ban GMOs must be respected by the biotech industry.

The results of the applications will be published in early November. If rejected by Monsanto, Syngenta or Pioneer, governments still have the option to ban GMOs on agricultural, social and economic grounds. It comes in a context of overwhelming public opposition to the proposed inclusion of special rights for investors in the on-going EU-US trade talks (TTIP) and in the EU-Canada trade (CETA) and heated political debate.

Notes to the editor:
[1] http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1364
[2] http://www.foeeurope.org/trading-away-democracy-cetas-investor-protection-rules-threaten-public-good-191114
[3] http://www.s2bnetwork.org/isds-statement/
[4] http://www.foeeurope.org/eu-commission-deaf-opposition-investor-privileges-130115

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