Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Poland to Commence Public Consultations on GM Foods

Poland has remained one of the strongest opponents to the introduction of GM foods since the WTO Panel Decision on the approval and marketing of biotech products in the EU. The panel was assembled in response to complaints from the US, Canada and Argentina regarding the de facto moratorium on GM foods.

Nevertheless, opposition to GM persists throughout Europe and Poland in particular has continued to block approvals. In January this year, in the face of the deadline to comply with the Panel Decision, the Commission was expected to take legal action in the ECJ. In April this year, the Commission brought an action against Poland (C165/08) seeking a declaration that Poland was failing to comply with its obligations under Directive 2001/18/EC (on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms) by introducing a ban on the movement of genetically-modified seed.

The case is yet to be heard, but meanwhile the Polish government will launch public consultations this week on the draft of new Polish Act on Genetically Modified Organisms, prepared by the Ministry of Environment. Among other things, the new Act introduces criminal penalties for unauthorised introductions and will give authorities the power to establish GMO-free areas, without necessarily imposing a blanket ban. Therefore, the new Act is proposed to take account of European obligations towards the introduction of GMO while at the same time inviting public consultations to take account of the widespread opposition in Poland to the introduction of GMO.

The consultation comes after an earlier survey, conducted for Gazeta Wyborcza by the PBS DGA market research company.

Poland is just one of several European countries opposed to GM, including the United Kingdom. The Environmental News Network reported this week that British opposition to genetically modified crops has increased with nearly all 54 trials over the last 8 years being attacked.

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