“Ecological biodiversity is linked to that of the economic fabric of seed companies”

VSEach diffusion of a new technology should be the subject of an open and dispassionate public debate: it is essential that a democratic process informed by science determines whether or not this or that innovation contributes to the general interest. This must be the case for plants and foods obtained by “new genomic techniques” (NGT, for New Genomic Techniques), including cisgenesis. [un processus du génie génétique qui permet le transfert de gènes entre des organismes qui pourraient être croisés selon des méthodes d’hybridation classiques], and commonly called “new GMOs”. Our socialist culture naturally makes us open to the prospect of progress enabled by scientific research, but also attentive to the conditions in which it is implemented, for the better… and sometimes for the worse.

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NGT plants are presented as a “magic” solution to environmental, food and agricultural challenges. They would be the ideal substitute for pesticides, a guarantee of food security, a response to the water crisis… History teaches us that this inflation of promises was an illusion when it comes to GMO plants: the only plants from transgenesis massively arriving on the market were plants resistant to pesticides, justifying the unlimited use of the latter.

This experience invites us to be cautious, but not to refuse in principle. These NGT technologies are different from previous ones and, well supervised, can extend the historical movement of varietal selection and plant improvement.

Food and environmental safety

If we do not want to play sorcerers’ apprentice, our attention must focus on the purposes and effective means of controlling their implementation. We measure the risk of deregulation, which would result in the strengthening of the quasi-monopoly of a few multinationals in the strategic seed sector. Ecological biodiversity is partly linked to that of the economic fabric of seed companies. The European Commission’s deregulation proposals expose us, as they stand, to the major risk of a dangerous trivialization of NGT plants.

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At a minimum and without exhaustiveness, we are campaigning for three requirements. Firstly, authorization to cultivate and place NGT plants on the market must be conditional on their positive effects in terms of sustainability. Risks to health and the environment must be assessed systemically, on a case-by-case basis. This assessment will also take into consideration social and economic impacts. In other words, all progress must be put at the service of the well-being of citizens, agroecology and European sovereignty. This vigilance must be maintained beyond the placing on the market and allow, if necessary, the removal of plants which prove to be in contradiction with the imperative of food and environmental safety.

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