Europe paves way for GM crop bans

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EurActiv: European commission vote on Tuesday opens door to countries individually banning GM crops

The European Parliament on Tuesday backed plans to let member states choose whether to ban the cultivation of genetically-modified (GM) crops on their territory, giving a detailed list of grounds on which such bans could be imposed.

The House voted to amend European Commission proposals for an EU regulation that would allow member states to restrict or ban the cultivation on their territory of GM crops, which have been given safety approval at EU level.

The Commission’s initial proposal suggested that member states could restrict or ban their cultivation on all but health or environmental grounds, which were to be assessed solely by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

But the proposals have sparked a wave of criticism, with businesses fearing they could lead to fragmentation of the internal market, bringing legal uncertainty for farmers. Some of the EU executive’s proposals have also been deemed incompatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

The Parliament’s report seeks to provide member states with “a solid legal basis” for banning GM crop cultivation, and to give them better legal protection in the event of challenges from trading partners opposed to bans.

The report – adopted with 548 votes in favour, 84 against and 31 abstentions – lists a number of reasons to allow member states to impose bans. These include:

• Environmental grounds: Such as pesticide resistance, the invasiveness of certain crops, threats to biodiversity or a lack of data on potential negative consequences for the environment.
• Socio-economic considerations: Such as the practicality and cost of measures to avoid an unintentional presence of GMOs in other products, fragmentation of territory, changes in agricultural practices linked to intellectual property regimes, or social policy objectives such as the conservation of diversity or distinctive agricultural practices.
• Grounds relating to land use and agricultural practices.

Read more of this article: guardian.co.uk>>

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