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EU Study Finds GE & Non-GE
Crops Can't Co-Exist

From <>


16 May 2002

Brussels - A secret EU study leaked to Greenpeace states that all farmers
would face high additional, in some cases unsustainable costs of production
if genetically engineered (GE) crops were commercially grown in a large
scale in Europe. The study predicts that the situation would become
particularly critical for organic farming of oilseed rape as well as for
intensive production of conventional maize.

The EU Commission ordered the study on the co-existence of GE and non-GE
crops in May 2000 from the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies,
of the EU Joint Research Centre. The study was delivered to the EU
Commission in January 2002 with the recommendation that it not be made
public. (1)

"The European Commission has tried to keep this study secret", said Lorenzo
Consoli, Greenpeace EU policy advisor, "because it was afraid of its
political implications. The question is, if the introduction of GE crops on
a commercial scale in Europe increases costs of production for all farmers,
makes them more dependent on the big seed companies, and require complicated
and costly measures to avoid contamination, why should we accept GE
cultivation in the first place?" The EU study states that in oilseed rape
production the co-existence of GE and non-GE crops in a same region, even
when "technically possible", would be "economically difficult" because of
the additional costs and complexity of changes required in farming practices
in order to avoid genetic contamination. Both organic and conventional
farmers "would probably be forced to stop saving seed and instead buy
certified seed", because of the increased risk of GE impurity for seeds that
have been exposed to field contamination. The study predicts that smaller
farms would face relatively higher costs compared to larger entities, and
that cultivation of GE and non-GE crops in the same farm "might be an
unrealistic scenario, even for larger farms".

The main specific findings of the report were:

· Commercialisation of GE oilseed rape and maize and to a lesser extent
potatoes will increase costs of farming for conventional and organic farmers
at a range between 10 and 41 per cent of farm prices for oilseed rape and
between one and nine percent for maize and potatoes.

· Coexistence of GE farming and organic farming would be actually impossible
in many cases.

· Generally, coexistence would only be possible with massive changes in
farming practices, especially for conventional farmers; it would also
require co-operation between farmers in a region and the willingness of all
farmers concerned to participate in such co-operation; it is not clear who
would implement these changes, who would be responsible for controlling
their correct implementation, who would shoulder their costs.

· Seed and crop purity from GE at a detection level of 0.1 percent would be
virtually impossible in most cases, i.e. all products and seeds of oilseed
rape and maize would be contaminated with GE to a certain extent.

The study, based on a combination of computer modelling and expert opinion,
analysed the consequences of an increase in the share of GE crops. It
focused on the three crops of which GE varieties are currently available:
oilseed rape for seed production, maize for feed production and potatoes for
consumption. The study covered several farm types, both organic and
conventional farming. It also considered three different threshold levels
for genetic contamination: 0.1 percent (analytical detection level) for all
the three crops, 0.3 percent for oilseed rape and 1 percent for maize and


Lorenzo Consoli, Greenpeace EU Advisor on GMO, mobile: +32496122112; Teresa
Merilainen, Greenpeace International Press Office, Tel: +31205236637
A copy of the executive summary and conclusions of the study available here
or from Greenpeace European Unit, Lorenzo Consoli, mobile: +32496122112

(1) In a letter to the Comission accompanying the study, the Director
General of the EU Joint Research Centre, Barry McSweeney, suggests that "(S)
given the sensitivity of the issue, I would suggest that the report be kept
for internal use within the Commission only."

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