GMO endive, French farmers’ complaint

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French farmers denounce large-scale sale of genetically modified endive seed. At SIVAL(Salon des productions Végétales), in Angers (Maine-et-Loire, France), on 14.1.20.

Deliberate release into the environment of GMOs not authorized in the EU is possible, probable disregard of control authorities. For some 20 years now.

Peasant agriculture in France, the Confédération paysanne

The Confédération paysanne, formed in France in 1987, is one of the agricultural unions most active in protecting and enhancingpeasant agriculture. And it adheres, along with the Confédération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Familiaux, to
La Via Campesina
. An international movement in which 182 organizations in 81 countries participate. These include, in Italy, the Italian Rural Association (ARI), the Italian Association for Organic Agriculture (AIAB) and the Agri-Food Producers Workers Association.

Peasant agriculture-at the national, European and global levels-integrates social, agronomic and environmental dimensions into agricultural production. Under the banner of Respect, workers and communities, environment and biodiversity. In a logic of solidarity, sharing and agroecology. As an alternative to a model of industrial agriculture that behind the false proclamation of the ‘green revolution‘ has disproportionately increased production costs without adding any value.

GMO endive, complaints from French farmers

On 3/26/19, the Confédération paysanne had already denounced the sale of hybrid endive seeds to the interprofessional plant and seed organization (GNIS). (1) One of the world’s first producers of these seeds, Florimond Desprez, had been granted a patent on a genetically modified variety of Cichorium endivia in 1998, although none of his varieties has ever been designated as GMO. In 2001, the global industry leader
Limagrain-Vilmorin
introduced to the market an endive F1 variety obtained by crossing seeds from Florimond Desprez, once again without referring to genetic modification.

Dutch producers Rijk Zwaan and Bejo Zaden, themselves in the global pole position, are active on Franken-Indian seeds. The former had challenged Florimond Desprez‘s patent in 2008, (with late success, in 2016), the latter patented that same modified DNA sequence in the U.S. in 2018. Sequence that contains a genetic trait of the sunflower and is designed to ensure its resistance to herbicides.

GMO endive, what impact?

Almost all GMOs used in agriculture are programmed to resist (they alone) herbicides such as glyphosate. With the result, demonstrated in a recent scientific study of GMO soybeans, of inducing farmers to abandon traditional agronomic practices and make extensive use of agrotoxics.

France is the world champion ofendive, with 528 thousand tons of production and an average consumption per household of 5 kg/year, to the point of being the sixth most consumed vegetable in the land beyond the Alps. And out of 8,000 hectares planted with endives, 1,600 are found to be ‘herbicide resistant,’ according to the report published in November 2019 by Anses, the French food safety agency. (2) The majestic production is in fact attributed, in large part, to the agronomic yields of hybrids made by ‘cell fusion.’ But how is this ‘cell fusion’ achieved? Presumably, according to the Confédération paysanne, through genetic modification.

‘Cell fusion’ rules and risk management

‘Cell fusion’ obtained from incompatible species-as in this case, endives and sunflowers-qualifies the organism as genetically modified. Whatever genetic engineering technique is adopted (transgenesis or cisgenesis), according to the EU Court of Justice’s ruling 25.7.18. This entails the obligation to submit to EFSA the prior risk assessment of its deliberate release into the environment and use in the food chain, subsequent approvals by the European Commission, specific labeling, traceability and monitoring. (3)

The competent authorities, in France and other member countries where such seeds and/or related vegetables are marketed must therefore carry out the appropriate investigations and, if necessary, take the necessary crisis management measures to safeguard the health of consumers and ecosystems. Recalling that unauthorized GMOs qualify as hazardous under Regulation (EU) 625/2017.

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) See open letter from the Confédération paysanne to the GNIS, 3/26/19,

(2) Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail (2019).
Avis relatif à l’utilisation des variétés rendues tolérantes aux herbicides cultivées en France
,

(3) See dir. 2001/18/EC and reg. EU 1829/03, 1830/03. V. free ebook ‘
GMOs, the Big Scam