German contamination distances: 300 m, 150 ... or less if your neighbours talks you into it

[img_assist|nid=107|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=150|height=65]After years of arguments the German government finally decided on changes on a number of regulations for GM crops. What's hailed as an improvement in fact makes matters worse and some of the pressing issues have still not been tackled. What made it to the main TV news was that GM maize now should be planted 150 m away from conventional maize, or 300 m from organic maize. Or less if the GM farmer makes an agreement with his neighbours. It doesn't take much imagination to picture the pressure that can mount in a village if one farmer wants to grow GM maize... But it also means that their neighbours will have to label any kind of GM contamination, even below 0.9% because agreeing to a lesser safety distance clearly could technically been avoided. >>>

And then there is a longer distance for organic farmers. Why would that be needed if 150 m are considered far enough to avoid contamination. The answer is simply that in fact it is not considered enough to avoid any contamination, but those wanting to grow GM crops simply bank on the labelling regulation that allows contamination below 0.9% to stay unlabelled, claiming that there would be no damage to non-GM farmers if contamination would be lower then that. But in fact processors and other customers are likely to only purchase GM maize with lower contamination, just to stay on the safe side.

Other changes are equally bad: Specific groups of plants might be taken out of the regulation, even if the the so-called "closed system" in which they are grown would be open fields. Field trials would thereby by less regulated then crops approved for cultivation, food and feed by the EU.
The questions of bees, providing information to bee keepers or contamination of honey by GM pollen are still completely open. This is even more surprising since the issue whether beekeepers have to accept GM pollen in their honey, or whether they are even seen as a legitimate partner for ko-existence were repeatedly discussed as well as in court in the last months.
And even though selling MON810 seed has been stopped until a better monitoring plan has been provided by Monsanto, there are still no legal requirements or regulations for a appropriate monitoring of GMOs.

More detailed critiques are published (in German) by the Gen-ethic Network (GeN) and the German Greens.

The proposed changes in several laws and regulations still have to be discussed and approved by the German parliament, but the direction taken by Seehofer and his colleagues doesn't look good.