THIRD WORLD NETWORK INFORMATION SERVICE ON BIOSAFETY
14 June 2002
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
EU STUDY SHOWS GE CROPS COSTLY TO FARMERS
A study ordered by the EU Commission and made public on 22 May 2000 showed that farmers, particularly organic and conventional farmers, would face high additional costs if genetically engineered (GE) crops are commercially grown on a large scale in Europe.
The study on the co-existence of GE and non-GE farming found that commercialisation of GE oilseed rape and maize and to a lesser extent potatoes will increase costs of farming for conventional and organic farmers at a range between 10 and 41 per cent of farm prices for oilseed rape and between one and nine per cent for maize and potatoes.
The EU study states that in oilseed rape production the co-existence of GE and non-GE crops in a same region, even when “technically possible”, would be “economically difficult” because of the additional costs and complexity of changes required in farming practices in order to avoid genetic contamination.
Both organic and conventional farmers “would probably be forced to stop saving seed and instead buy certified seed”, because of the increased risk of GE impurity for seeds that have been exposed to field contamination.
The study predicts that smaller farms would face relatively higher costs compared to larger entities, and that cultivation of GE and non-GE crops in the same farm “might be an unrealistic scenario, even for larger farms”.
According to Greepeace, the report which was delivered on completion by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the EU Joint Research Center to the EU Commission in January 2002 was kept secret until last month due to the political sensitivity of the findings. (Greenpeace made available parts of the report on 16 May after it was leaked to the organization)
If the introduction of GE crops on a commercial scale in Europe increases costs of production for all farmers, makes them more dependent on the big seed companies, and requires complicated and costly measures to avoid contamination, this would put in question the acceptability of GE cultivation. Already there is widespread public rejection of GE foods throughout Europe and such findings would surely make GE crops more unacceptable.
The other main findings of the report were:
· Coexistence of GE farming and organic farming would be actually impossible in many cases;
· Generally, coexistence would only be possible with massive changes in farming practices, especially for conventional farmers; it would also require co-operation between farmers in a region and the willingness of all farmers concerned to participate in such co-operation. It is not clear who would implement these changes, who would be responsible for controlling their correct implementation, and who would shoulder their costs.
· Seed and crop purity from GE at a detection level of 0.1% would be virtually impossible in most cases, i.e. all products and seeds of oilseed rape and maize would be contaminated with GE to a certain extent.
The full report is available at http://www.jrc.cec.eu.int
Third World Network
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