EU to allow more sovereign decisions on GMO restrictions

Countries More News Today's Headline
EU to allow more sovereign decisions on GMO restrictions

European Union member states will soon be able to ban or restrict the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) even if the European Food Safety Authority deems them to be safe. European Commission Brussels - panorama

In an announcement today, Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg said that under the new agreement a two-step procedure was established to restrict or ban the cultivation of authorised GMOs.

"I am delighted to announce that the Environment Council has just broken the deadlock on the GMO cultivation proposal and has reached a political agreement that moves towards a new legal basis giving Member States the choice to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs on their territory," Borg said.

"Today's political agreement meets Member States' consistent calls since 2009 to have more flexibility and legal certainty for national decisions on cultivation on their territory or part of their territory."

Borg outlined four key provisions, adding that states could adjust their decisions to restrict or ban cultivation during the 10-year GM auhtorization period if new objective circumstances arose.

"First, it offers extended and legally sound possibilities for Member States to better take into account their national context when deciding on GMO cultivation. Currently, Member States can only use safeguard clauses to ban cultivation based on risk," he said.

"Second, by linking the so-called “step 1” (the pre-authorisation geographical scope restriction) and “step 2” (the post-authorisation opt-out), and setting clear timelines, the text provides necessary predictability for all actors.

"Third, if a Member State initiates step 1 - a “restriction of scope” request - the Commission will present this request to facilitate the procedure. If the applicant doesn’t react to the request, it equals agreement."

Fourthly, for the step 2 opt-out the final say on whether to cultivate a GMO will still stay with the member state, regardless of applicants' views.

"This proposal is not about the EU-wide risk assessment carried out by the European Food Safety Authority, which will remain as strict as it is today to ensure a high level of protection for human health, animal health and the environment," Borg said.

"4 years after the adoption of the Commission proposal, we are today in a position to adopt a political agreement on a new draft GMO cultivation legislation. This agreement is critical to pave the way for a constructive second reading in the new Parliament.

"The Commission will continue to offer its active support so that this new tool can hopefully be used from 2015."



Subscribe to our newsletter