European Court Ruling On GM "Victory For Democracy"

18 February 2009
Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee has today (Wednesday) reacted with delight to the European Court of Justice ruling on the cultivation of GM crops in the EU.

The Court ruled in the Sausheim Commune v Pierre Azelvandre case that cultivation of GM crops must be publicly disclosed. The case was brought by the French Conseil d'ĂŠtat to the European Court of Justice over a dispute in which Mr Azelvandre had, in 2004, sought from the Commune of Sausheim, near Strasbourg, information on any GM authorisations in the area and had been refused access to the information. The Court ruled that the public do have a right to know if, and where, GM crops are being cultivated and that the grounds for refusal used by the Commune (the protection of public order) could not be relied upon as rounds for refusal.

Speaking after having analysed the judgment, Smith, himself a Solicitor by profession, said:

"This is a hugely significant judgment, and puts a very clear line in the sand for those who seek to undermine by stealth the EU's opposition to GM.

"The GM issue is regularly raised with me as I travel across Scotland, and I am quite clear in my view that anything that risks Scotland's reputation in the eyes of the public for healthy, wholesome local food production must be viewed with extreme caution. The SNP government's policy on GM is spot on, and a calm, measured and rational stance compared to the hysteria we see from some quarters. Right or wrong, the public hysteria which could be whipped up over GM cultivation could see a food scare to dwarf all previous food scares, and it is right that we jealously guard Scotland's healthy, wholesome reputation.

"The actions of the GM companies have not been helpful to their pro-GM cause and we have seen many instances of questionable behaviour from them, not least in the developing world. I also do not accept the argument put forward by some that the European anti-GM stance hinders GM research globally. South America, North America, Africa, China, India and plenty of other places are open for GM experiments, yet we have still not seen the oft-promised supercrop. Likewise, I see no cost advantages to European farmers from any adoption of GM.

"The ruling helps reassure the public that nothing will be done by stealth. If anyone wants to cultivate GM let him come forward with a clear case based on facts, and I have no doubt that the balance of opinion will clearly favour the continuation of the precautionary principle. But that debate must be open and honest, based on facts and held publicly. This ruling makes clear that those who would seek to introduce GM by the European back door will find it firmly closed and I welcome that wholeheartedly."