As of 1 April 2012, EU citizens will have a brand new tool allowing them to participate in shaping EU policy. The European Citizen’s Initiative was enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty in 2009, allowing citizens to ask the European Commission to submit a proposal to change European law.
In order for a request to be recognised, one million citizens from at least one quarter of the EU Member States must sign a petition.
The organisers of an initiative – a citizens’ committee composed of at least 7 EU citizens, resident in at least 7 different Member States – have one year to collect the necessary support. Organisers of successful initiatives will participate in a hearing at the European Parliament. The Commission will then have 3 months to examine the initiative and decide how to act.
The first attempt to invoke the initiative took place as early as December 2010 when campaigning organisations Avaaz and Greenpeace delivered a petition to Health Commissioner John Dalli. It contained signatures from all 27 Member States. The petition calls on the Commission to ban genetically modified (GM) crops until a new independent, ethical, scientific body is established to assess their impact.
On March 27th 2012, the Just Label It Campaign in the US announced that a record-breaking one million Americans of all political persuasions call on the FDA to label genetically engineered (GE) foods. The campaign also announced a new national survey revealing that Americans across the political spectrum stand united in support of labeling food that has been genetically engineered.
Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Stonyfield, a Just Label It partner stated that: “In recent years, Americans have shown a real interest in knowing more about our food and now there is a clear mandate for the labeling of genetically engineered foods. This petition asks the FDA to stand up for the rights of average Americans, and not just a handful of powerful chemical companies. It’s time for the FDA to give Americans the same rights held by citizens in forty nations, including all of our major trade partners, to know whether our foods have been genetically modified. The FDA needs to restore confidence in our food and our right to know about the food we eat and feed our families.”
You can find the full press release here