EU Member states block GM Plan

18th Mar 2012

A group of EU member states has blocked a revised EU law that would allow national governments to decide independently if they want to grow them.

Last year, the European Commission proposed to let individual countries decide if they allow the cultivation of GM crops, while maintaining EU-wide authorisation rules.

The European Parliament accepted the idea in July 2011, adding that governments should be able to invoke environmental reasons to ban a GM crop, and not just socio-economic grounds.

But the Council of Ministers has failed to reach an agreement on the proposal at a meeting held in Brussels on 9 March.

The failure angered governments who want to press ahead with the plan. “I am amazed that some member states stand in the way for the majority of the other member states to decide whether to cultivate GMOs on their territory or not,” said Danish environment minister Ida Auken, who chaired the meeting.

She added: “We will now spend the next month to examine whether there is a possibility that Europe could make a decision in June.”

Member states who are opposed to the proposal include France, Germany and Belgium, Europolitics reported. They have argued that it is not compatible with World Trade Organisation and EU internal market rules.

But it.s supporters accuse them of hypocrisy. “Larger member states are hypocritical when they present this proposal as a threat to the common market, because they often have themselves enacted safeguard clauses against the cultivation of GM maize,” said French MEP Corinne Lepage, of the Liberals & Democrats group, who authored the European Parliament’s report on this subject.

“A huge majority of European citizens is opposed to GMOs, and most countries want to prevent their cultivation on their territory. I therefore call on the Council to step up its efforts at finding a compromise that will provide member states with precise and legally solid grounds to ban GMO cultivation,” she added.

The Danish presidency of the Council had proposed what it saw as a compromise, whereby biotech companies would be allowed to grow GM plants in some EU countries if they don’t sell the crops in the countries that wish to ban them, but this idea made no headway at the 9 March meeting

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