New legislation to allow European Union member states to restrict or ban the cultivation of crops containing genetically modified organisms on their own territory, even if this is allowed at EU level, was passed by members today.
The legislation, informally agreed by Parliament and Council in December, was originally tabled in 2010 but was then deadlocked for four years due to disagreement between pro- and anti-GMO member states.
“This agreement will ensure more flexibility for member states who wish to restrict the cultivation of the GMOs in their territory,” says Frédérique Ries, who is steering the legislation through Parliament.
The agreement negotiated with EU ministers was approved by 480 votes to 159, with 58 abstentions. The new rules would allow member states to ban GMOs on environmental policy grounds other than the risks to health and the environment already assessed by the European Food Safety Authority.
Member states could also ban GMO crops on other grounds, such as town and country planning requirements, socio-economic impact, avoiding the unintended presence of GMOs in other products and farm policy objectives. Bans could also include groups of GMOs designated by crop or trait.
The new legislation will come into force in spring 2015.