Industry open letter successfully influenced EU Parliament’s plenary vote on MEPs


An open letter to the Chair of the EPP Group, Manfred Weber, widely distributed to members of all parliamentarian groups and signed by over 310 food companies, has had the intended impact, with MEPs voting in their plenary to ensure labelling for consumers and traceability for business throughout the whole value chain and the ban of New GMOs in organic farming.

The initiative "The Right to Know Whether There are New GMOs in Food”, which was launched this January, was led by several well-known food companies in Germany: Alb-Gold, Alnatura, Andechser, dm and Frosta. They all came together to demand that labelling of New GMOs and freedom of choice for the food industry are preserved. The initiative was met with such a strong swell of support that it was opened up to all European food companies.

And it is clear the MEPs took note! In their plenary vote on 7 February on New GMOs, the European Parliament voted in favour of labelling and traceability requirements for all New GMOs, following amendments tabled by the Greens and S&D. Should the Parliament’s position become law, business operators (breeders, farmers, food and feed processors, retailers) and consumers will continue to have the right to know what is in their value chains and their food. MEPs also decided to maintain the ban of New GMOs in organic farming, the second call of the food business’ initiative.

Regarding transparency and the exclusion of New GMOs in organic, the Parliament has adopted a position that is an open contradiction to the Parliament Rapporteur’s draft report on the proposed legislation, Swedish EPP member Jessica Polfjärd. 

Originally the EPP wanted to enforce legal regulations that would result in 94 percent of all products produced with new genetic engineering (category 1 NGTs) remaining unlabelled and thus not being recognisable as such on the market. With abolishing of labelling even for genetically modified seeds, the EPP rapporteur's draft removed this minimum requirement for transparency - and thus the basis for the traceability and labelling of genetically modified products. In addition, the EPP wanted to lift the ban of New GMOs in organic farming. In doing so, it was opposing the will of the entire European Organic sector. 

Luckily both EPP’s proposals failed to get majorities!