STRASBOURG (Xinhua) – Individual European Union (EU) states will soon be able to ban the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops on their own territory.
Members of the European Parliament (EP) voted recently in Strasbourg by a large majority to leave the decision not to allow growing GM crops to national governments, even though their cultivation is allowed at EU level.
The rule change, informally agreed by the EP and the Council of the EU in December, was originally tabled in 2010 but was then deadlocked for four years due to disagreement between pro- and anti-GM member states.
Currently, only one GM crop, an insect-resistant maize called MON 810, is grown in the EU. Five countries have set aside land to grow it, among which Spain is by far the biggest grower. However, other countries, including Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg and Poland, adopted ‘safeguard clauses’ to prohibit its cultivation on their territories.
But the problem has been that they have not been able to justify banning the crops on grounds other than those established by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which assesses risks to health and the environment. Consequently, these countries’ have found their own laws overturned by national courts as being incompatible with EU law.
With the change in legislation individual states will be able to decide whether they want to ban GM crops on their own environmental policy grounds.
Member states will also be able ban or restrict the crops on grounds such as town and country planning requirements, socio-economic impact, avoiding the unintended presence of GM organisms (GMOs) in other products and farm policy.
Bans could also include groups of GMOs designated by crop.