European agriculture ministers failed to reach an agreement on the deregulation of new GMOs at meetings in Brussels this week.

Several environmental organisations in the Grand Duchy, including Greenpeace Luxembourg, as well as three farmers' associations, recently issued a joint statement calling upon the Luxembourgish government to reject the new regulations on genetic engineering. On Monday, Greenpeace responded to the news that Luxembourg had voted against the proposals, calling it a heartening decision.

The proposals, which would see most safety testing removed for genetically modified plants produced using new genomic techniques, have drawn criticism since the announcement in the summer. The European Commission's plan, led by Spain, sought to create two categories for new genetically modified plants: Category 1 GMOs would be considered equivalent to conventional plants and fully deregulated, while Category 2 GMOs would only have to comply with watered-down safety controls.

According to the German Federal Office for Nature Conservation, 94% of authorisation applications for new GMOs would fall into category 1. The European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) warned that the criteria used by the Commission to determine equivalence with conventional plants were not based on any scientific evidence and could not guarantee that the new category 1 GMOs are safe.

Raymond Aendekerk, director of Greenpeace Luxembourg and referent of the agriculture campaign, commented that it was encouraging that the EU member states had failed to reach an agreement.

"It is a good thing that Luxembourg has voted against this unacceptable proposal. The other EU members must now continue negotiations to ensure all new GMOs are adequately tested, traced and labelled, to protect human health and the environment, and to provide transparency for consumers as well as the entire sector, from production to final sale."