19 EU countries seek to block GM crop cultivation

2015-10-04 21:58
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Brussels - More than two thirds of the European Union's member states want to block the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops on their territory.

Nineteen out of the EU's 28 countries have filed the necessary paperwork under new rules that make it easier for governments to ban genetically modified organisms, EU Commission spokesperson Enrico Brivio said on Sunday.

They include Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands and Poland, Slovenia, while Germany has requested a more limited opt-out that allows for GM research.

Belgium and Britain, meanwhile, have asked for the opt-out to apply to only parts of their territory: The region of Wallonia for Belgium and Scotland, Wales and northern Ireland in the case of Britain.

"There has never been a clearer signal that GM crops, and the companies that make them, are not wanted in Europe," Mute Schimpf of the Friends of the Earth Europe environmental group said.

GM companies now have one month to state their opinion on the national opt-out requests, but governments will have the ultimate say on whether to ban a crop or not.

GM crops have traditionally met with strong public resistance in Europe due to health and environmental concerns. But EU member states had in the past been allowed to only block their use if there was scientific evidence of health or environmental risks.

Under the new rules, member states can ban EU-approved GM crops for a broader range of reasons, including political considerations.

The only GM crop currently approved for cultivation in the EU is Monsanto's maize strain MON 810. Other applications are pending.

"A growing number of governments... don't trust EU safety assessments and are rightly taking action to protect their agriculture and food," Franziska Achterberg of the Greenpeace environmental organisation said, calling for the bloc's executive, the European Commission, to "hit the pause button" on GM approvals.

The EU also imports GM products from abroad. A proposal to make it easier to ban those products is still pending.

Read more on:    eu  |  genetics

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