Interview with New ENGA Member: Lampert

ENGA interviews new member Lampert to hear more about why they wanted to become a member, what the benefits are and what challenges face the sector.

•    Why did you become an ENGA member? 

“No GMOs” is one of the eight core company values of Lampert. We are an advocate for GMO-free agriculture and processing across the whole value creation chain, because agricultural systems are as complex as every living being and eco-system. The consequences of genetic engineering are neither sufficiently researched nor predictable.

For many years now we have had a close relationship with the Austrian association “ARGE Gentechnik-frei”, hence it was a logic step for us to be a member of ENGA.

•    What is the main benefit of ENGA membership for you as a company? 

We need organisations like ENGA to fight for strict regulation of modified products and support organic producers on their path to GMO-free and sustainable agriculture. 

At the moment the European Commission is discussing changing the legislation for New Genomic Techniques (NGTs), because new biotechnology like targeted mutagenesis or CRISPR-Cas are not genetically modified in the traditional sense of the word. Deregulation would mean that they aren’t treated like GMOs anymore and NGT-products could enter Europe much more easily. 

That could cause huge potential losses to the non-GMO sector, with the potential of destroying it completely. Currently, there are not reliable traceability methods and detection for NGT-products in the EU. But, organic production has to proove that they are GMO-free and the absence of GMOs is a major selling point. As organic producers have to pay for keeping their processes GMO-free  - due to the absence of a “polluter pays” principle in the EU GMO legislation - NGT-products would increase costs significantly for the non-GMO sector. 

•    What is the biggest issue facing Non-GMO producers? 

That there is no reliable detection for NGT-products. With a softening of EU GMO legislation, food and feed produced with NGTs could come onto the market untested and invisible to manufacturers, marketers and consumers. It would become extremely expensive, if not impossible, for the non-GMO industry to keep NGT-products out of the production chain. The responsibility cannot be limited to the non-GMO sector. The whole sector has to safeguard against it. 

•    What do you think the future holds for Non-GMO?

The majority of European consumers refuse to eat GMO products, they even don’t want them anywhere in their food chain, for example in GMO feed. Instead, we witness a rapidly growing range of products labelled as “non-GMO”. 

In the long term, GMO-free and sustainable agriculture is the only way to feed the world. We are facing ongoing climate crises and biodiversity loss and we have to act now. Regional, resilient and robust plants and animals are already available without any biotechnology. Let’s plant and nourish them! Let’s enrich agriculture with them. That is the best route to preventing the dependency of farmers on biotech companies, and instead increase food sovereignty. Farmers must be the owners of their seeds, plants and animals. They must be their own master and fight for their rights. We will stand right behind them.

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