Legal & Legislative Aspects of GMOs

Commentaires des dispositions juridiques et législatives encadrant les OGM en France et en Europe

GMO Liability: Directive 2004/35/CEE, Oct 2005

Monday 29 January 2007


Directive 2004/35/CE of the European Parliament and Council, dated 21 April 2004, on the environmental liability with regards to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage with a  view to establish an environmental framework based on the polluter-pays principle, to prevent and remedy environmental damage. This Directive, which came into effect on 30 April 2004, will have to be implemented by Member States by 30 April 2007.

Under this Directive, environmental damages are defined as follows: 
  • Direct or indirect damages, caused to the aquatic environment covered by the Community legislation in terms of water management.
  • Direct or indirect damages, caused to the species or the natural habitats protected at a Community level by the Birds Directive of 1979 and the Habitats Directive of 1992, as well as the direct or indirect contamination of soils which presents majors risk for human health.


CAP21 is Exposing the Scandalous Attitude of the French Authorities - Sept 2005

Monday 29 January 2007
CAP 21 is outraged by the attempt made by France to modify the Community provision which authorizes the publication of information pertaining to the effects of GMOs on health. (Article 25 of Directive 2001/18/CE). In a note from the French authorities addressed to the European Commission, in the preparation of the committee of 19 September 2005, the French State tried to circumvent the favourable opinion of the French Commission for the Access to Administrative Documents (CADA) to the demand of CRIIGEN on the right to access 90 day toxicological studies on rats fed on genetically modified maize  Bt11. “CADA reckons that – contrary to the opinion of the competent French authorities – the toxicity studies conducted within the framework of the assessment of health risks must be revealed.” As far as MON 863 maize is concerned, a German Court ordered that the study on the effects on rats must be released, CAP 21 and Corinne Lepage consider the French Authorities Note particularly shocking and outrageous: “Revealing such reports based on raw data and isolated studies used within the framework of the assessment of risks is likely to mar the public opinion’s trust in the risk management process, but also to HARM THE COMPETITIVE POSITION OF THE COMPANY” (sic!) Thus, as though making consumers take unnecessary risks, for lack of independent and trustworthy public studies, was not enough, the Government is attempting to impose on the European Commission a strict confidentiality on the toxicological studies conducted by seed manufacturers while being perfectly aware of the risks and uncertainties revealed by these studies. Now, everyone knows how important it is to the French State to apply the Precautionary Principle which was nonetheless recently made part of the Constitution.

Appeal for the Labelling of the Products from Animals Fed on GMOs - May 2007

Friday 4 April 2008

Organizations, but also farmers and industrials are demanding that meat and animal products (dairy products, eggs and so on and so forth) should be labelled, as vegetable products are, when their feed contained GMOs.

“Animal products, whether we are talking about meat or even fish from fish farms,  might have been fed GMO feed (genetically modified organisms) without the consumer being aware of it, due to the fact there is no labelling”, deplored Jean-Yves Griot, the secretary of the Coherence Network in Rennes (Brittany) on Friday, this network gathers over a hundred organizations from West  France (consumers, farmers, advocates of the environment). The former are demanding that animal products be submitted to the same constraints as vegetable products, for which Europe is imposing since April 2004 a specific labelling so long as they contain more than 0.9% of an ingredient from a genetically modified plant. 

“Between 60 and 90% European consumers, depending on the country, are demanding non-GMO food (...). Non-GMO food is from now on part of the quality criteria of products in major food stores, as well as in fast food chains, which are starting to take this new public mood into account, “as a marketing tool”, underlines François Bettinger, the representative of Solteam, a company specialized in the worldwide trade of non-GMO soy. Around 70% of the production of Cooperl, the number one pork meat producer in France with 15% of the production (3.6 million pigs slaughtered every year), is GMO free, adds Denis Olivry, Purchasing Manager for the cooperative. “Unfortunately, without the labelling, we cannot enhance this non-GMO production”, he regretted. “Whether we are talking about a pork rib from a pig fed on GMO or non-GMO feed, the consumer won’t be able to see the difference when he buys the product” according to him. The situation is the same with fish farms which are about to develop due to the depletion of halieutic resources.

“To produce one  kilo of farm-raised fish, you need 5 kilos of wild fish, and this is no longer possible. Nowadays, wild fish is being replaced by soy”, without mentioning whether it contains GMOs or not, adds M. Bettinger. Most of soy used for cattle feed is imported. Brittany, one of the major agro-industrial regions in the European Union, has gone to great lengths to set up non transgenic import channels, essentially from Brazil, the number one exporting country worldwide. About forty European regions have also subscribed to this approach for a secured supplying channel for soy – as well as other products – of  non-GMO animal feed. According to a survey published in May 2007, most French farmers were in favour of a moratorium on GMOs, waiting for consensus or for scientific research to offer the possibly of taking definite decisions on the existence or not of real health and environment risks linked to this type of production.

Source: AFP


The New French GMO Bill Under Criticism

Thursday 10 April 2008

GMO Law: A Botched Job and a Completely Irresponsible Vote (Greenpeace)

PARIS, 9 April 2008 (AFP) – The French GMO Bill adopted last Wednesday by the French Assembly, was the result of “a botched job” and a “completely irresponsible vote”, according to Greenpeace in a press release. 


Green Peace deplores the adoption of such a bill, which condemns the whole French agricultural production in the long term to being contaminated and defines a responsibility system that is completely failing. Underlying that GMO-free products are defined by a 0.9% contamination, Greenpeace pointed out that “GMO-free means in fact: with a little bit of GMOs” and that the conventional or the organic farmers will have to tackle contaminations by themselves. The only “responsible amendment”, was the one presented by the Communist Member of Parliament André Chassaigne, allowing the protection of quality production zones without GMOs, “but it might be put into question next week in the Senate during the second reading”, said the association. “The crusade of Chief-Sergeant Copé against a Secretary of State guilty of supporting the only amendment limiting the contamination does not do justice to  French Democracy”, added the spokesperson of Greenpeace.


France Nature Environment (FNE, which includes 3000 associations) considers that the Members of Parliament have adopted “a few amendments to reinforce the Law significantly towards a better protection of non-GMO crops”. However, “it is deeply regrettable that no improvement was brought to the crucial issue of responsibility in case of contamination", underlined FNE.


Decree on the Abondance Cheese AOC

Friday 4 April 2008

Decree No 2007-949 from 15 May 2007 pertaining to the AOC of the Abondance Cheese

(Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée: controlled designation of origin)

“Are only authorized in the feed of the animals: plants, co-products and supplements made from non-transgenic products. Planting transgenic crops is forbidden on the whole surface of the land where milk is produced to make the Abondance Cheese AOC. This ban is extended to any plant species likely to be fed to the animals on the farm and to any cultivation of a plant that could contaminate the animals. The farmers have to provide the French State Veterinary Services with all the papers that have to do with the purchase of feed and seeds, and in particular, invoices, labels and packaging. They also need to indicate the volume, the lists of ingredients and the origin of the products. This also applies to the purchase of standing crops.”

The GMO Law Almost Totally Validated - June 2008

Friday 4 July 2008

The French Constitutional Council almost totally validated the GMO Law on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) after having been to requested to censure it by the left wing Members of the Parliament, announced the Council, one of the highest jurisdiction in the French Republic.

The Sages of the Palais Royal, as French journalists like to call them, have ruled out most appeals – whether on the procedure itself or on the content of the law – that were developed by Socialist, Communist, Radical and Green Senators or Members of Parliament.

In a communiqué, the Council considers that the law “was adopted following a legitimate procedure”, whereas the applicants were claiming that the examination of the law in question ought to have been interrupted following the surprise adoption of a preliminary question which was brought in by a Communist Member of Parliament. Contrary to all expectations, the law was still voted in a boisterous atmosphere, on May 13, 2008, and after a number of UMP Members of Parliament deserted the assembly, before being cancelled shortly afterwards by a commission with equal representation on both sides  including 7 Members of Parliament and 7 Senators).


New Decree in Wallonia (Belgium) - June 2008

Thursday 3 July 2008

The Walloon Coexistence of Crops Decree has been Voted

On June 11, the Walloon Parliament voted the decree project on the coexistence of crops proposed by Minister Benoît Lutgen. In practical terms, it means that it will be literally impossible to grow genetically modified plants anywhere within the Walloon territory.

This vote is undoubtedly a direct consequence of the campaign led by Nature & Progrès, in the Spring last year, which you had supported by accepting to sign our petition entitled Sauvons la bio (Lets Save Organic Farming) which was protesting against the tolerance, in organic products, of accidental GMO pollutions. 

The decree adopted in Wallonia strictly defines the requirements that will have to be met by farmers for any potential field of genetically modified plants. The purpose was essentially to continue defending a quality type of agriculture and to guard against any risk of irreversible dissemination.