News Nov 02, 2009
Key aspects of the agreement between the CDU, CSU and FDP are an endorsement of the cultivation of genetically modified Amflora starch potatoes, flexible, regionally determined minimum distances between fields with genetically modified crops and fields with conventional crops, and positive ‘GM-free’ labelling at European level. As far as the German cultivation ban on MON810 maize is concerned, the coalition intends to await the outcome of the ongoing court case.
The coalition partners want to change the Genetic Engineering Act to allow the federal states to set their own minimum separation distances between fields with genetically modified plants and fields with organic or conventional crops. The idea is to draw up a nationwide framework, although this is not defined in any more detail, so it is not yet clear whether such minimum distances will have to be based on scientific criteria in future.
The reaction of groups and associations to the agreements has been mixed. Germany’s organic food industry association (BÖLW) has severely criticised the agreements on plant biotechnology contained in the coalition agreement, saying it was "unbelievable" that a specific product produced by one company was mentioned in the agreement (the genetically modified Amflora potato). Greenpeace sees the agreement as evidence that the interests of corporations "clearly come before protection of the environment and people".
By contrast, the German Raiffeisen Association, an umbrella organisation that represents the interests of cooperatives in the German food and agriculture sector, welcomed the fact that the agreements promote the potential of plant biotechnology as an industry of the future. It claimed that this would make an important contribution to freedom of choice. What was needed now was to implement a legal framework in Germany and Europe that would prevent distortion of competition and would, in particular, make it feasible to work with European Community Law’s zero tolerance for GMOs not authorised in the EU.