Dr. Weeks’ Comment: “Just say No to Monsanto”
Beekeepers Win Ban on Monsanto’s GMOs in Poland
Monsanto’s Mon810 corn, genetically engineered to produce a mutant version of the insecticide Bt, has been banned in Poland following protests by beekeepers who showed the corn was killing honeybees.
Poland is the first country to formally acknowledge the link between Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn and the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that’s been devastating bees around the world.
GMM and GMO in Poland?
To increase the genetic diversity of U.S. corn, the Germplasm Enhancement for Maize project seeks to combine exotic germplasm, such as this unusually shaped maize from Latin America with domestic corn
The Polish position on GMO is sceptical. According to the government’s policy, Poland intends to be a GMO-free country – it was stipulated in the government’s position on GMO in 2008.
At the moment, the EU law does not provide a possibility to say a decisive
“NO to GMO”, but it allows using so-called exemptions, if human and animal health
or life or natural environment is at risk – the Polish Ministry of Agriculture is currently taking advantage of this possibility. As far as maize is concerned, the ministry will introduce a regulation forbidding cultivation of genetically modified maize throughout Poland (MON 810 maize) – the draft version of March 15th has been sent to the public consultation.
The ban is justified by the threat of pollution of areas where bees collect nectar with genetically modified pollen and the resulting damage to Polish bee-keepers. As far as the ban on cultivation of genetically modified potato (Amflora) is concerned, currently there is no evidence proving its harmfulness, so the exemption cannot be applied. It should, however, be pointed out that there is no information that Polish farmers are interested in its cultivation.
These are not the only actions taken by the government. At the beginning of April, the Ministry of Environment prepared and sent to the public consultation the draft act on genetically modified organisms. The draft concerns technical issues related to the closed use of GMM and GMO, i.e. handling genetically modified micro-organisms and organisms in closed systems, e.g. in laboratories, greenhouses, etc., mainly during scientific research. The scope included in the new draft will be sufficient to ensure that once Poland adopts these regulations it will have legal norms compliant with EU law with respect to GMM (genetically modified micro-organisms). The act will be particularly important to scientists. Among other things, a simplification of procedures for obtaining permits for conducting work in laboratories is planned. The act will guarantee a high level of safety for research. Thanks to the modern act, it will be possible in Poland to safely conduct research important for the development of medicine (clinical research in which GMM and GMO are used) and pharmacology (manufacturing of, for example, medicines and vaccines).
The GMO regulations which are currently applicable in Poland do not regulate all issues connected with it which are regulated by the EU law, e.g. the manner in which cultivations of genetically modified plants are to be conducted and registered or supervision of such cultivations. The GMO issue in Poland requires new regulations, for example due to the need to adjust the law to the current EU regulations and the need to follow the fast technological progress in this field.
The discussion on the future of GMO has been underway in the Council for nearly 10 years. During the debate, the Member States have demanded the right to more independent actions with respect to the issue of making decisions about GMO crops in their territory. At meetings of the so-called GMO ad hoc group, which Poland was in charge of in the second half of 2011, we called for agreement and resumption of the work on EU decisions, but the differences in positions of the Member States are still very significant, also during the current Danish presidency. The aim of the group’s work was to obtain Council’s consent for adopting a new legal act which would enable the Member States to introduce bans on GMO crops in their territory.
Once it is possible to coordinate the national and EU processes, an additional (for draft versions of the Ministry Environment and Ministry of Agriculture) “big” act on GMO will be prepared in Poland, which will regulate, among other things, the issue of exemption of the country from GMO crops.
Source: the Chancellery of the Prime Minister