Fif­teen Euro­pean Union na­tions opt to re­main free of GMO foods

The China Post - - LIFE -

Fif­teen of the 28 EU mem­ber na­tions are seek­ing to keep ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied or­gan­isms out of all or part of their ter­ri­tory, as the dead­line for opt­ing out of new Euro­pean leg­is­la­tion on GMO crops nears, the bloc’s ex­ec­u­tive arm said Thurs­day.

The grow­ing list of mem­bers, which in a blow to the biotech in­dus­try want a to­tal ban on GMO cul­ti­va­tion in their fields, in­cludes EU heavy­weights Ger­many and France.

Bri­tain is also seek­ing a ban for Scot­land, Wales and North­ern Ire­land, leav­ing only Eng­land to will­ingly al­low GM crop cul­ti­va­tion.

Also on the to­tal opt-out list are Aus­tria, Bulgaria, Croa­tia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithua­nia, the Nether­lands and Poland, an EU Com­mis­sion spokesman told AFP.

Bel­gium has opted to keep French-speak­ing Wal­lo­nia re­gion GMO-free.

Mem­bers states have un­til Oct. 3 to opt-out of the new EU-wide leg­is­la­tion on ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied crops.

Those na­tional de­mands must be put to the big agri­cul­tural multi­na­tion­als, in­clud­ing the likes of Mon­santo and Dow, in or­der to pre­vent the cul­ti­va­tion of GMOs al­ready au­tho­rized by the EU, or in the process of au­tho­riza­tion.

The EU had al­ready cleared over 70 ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied prod­ucts in­clud­ing hu­man food, an­i­mal feed and cut flow­ers.

The agro com­pa­nies have the right to op­pose such calls for these GMO prod­ucts to be banned from in­di­vid­ual mem­ber states.

If they do so then mem­ber states can still in­voke “sub­stan­tial grounds,” for ex­am­ple spe­cific en­vi­ron­men­tal or agri­cul­tural is­sues, for a ban.

The leg­is­la­tion cru­cially al­lows mem­ber states to ban GMOs on en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­icy con­sid­er­a­tions, even if the crop has al­ready been cleared on health and safety grounds at the EU level fol­low­ing a man­u­fac­turer’s re­quest.

Some EU na­tions fear GM foods pose a po­ten­tial threat to public health and could af­fect the rep­u­ta­tion and in­tegrity of their lo­cal agri­cul­tural pro­duce.

For oth­ers GMOs rep­re­sent an es­sen­tial tech­nol­ogy that can­not be ig­nored and is key to feed a grow­ing world pop­u­la­tion.

With nei­ther side able to pre­vail since the new leg­is­la­tion was first mooted in 2010, EU lead­ers thrashed out a com­pro­mise last year to hand the fi­nal de­ci­sion back to na­tional gov­ern­ments.

Sup­port­ers of GM prod­ucts and the man­u­fac­tur­ers had ar­gued that if the EU found no health rea­son to ban them, then in­di­vid­ual mem­ber states should have no rea­son to pre­vent their cul­ti­va­tion.

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