MEPs vote to extend GM banning criteria
Member states could be given the right to ban genetically modified crops on environmental grounds under proposals put forward by a committee of MEPs.
Earlier the European Commission had suggested that GMOs could be banned by individual countries only for moral or cultural reasons. But the European Parliament's environment committee has voted to extend the criteria. Environmental reasons could include pesticide resistance, for example.
Corinne Lepage, the ALDE MEP who wrote the report, said it sent a clear signal to the commission. "The EU authorisation system should be maintained but it should be acknowledged that some agricultural and environmental impacts, as well as socio-economic impacts linked to contamination, can be cited by member states to justify a ban or restriction on GMO cultivation," she said.
The move was welcomed by Green/European Free Alliance MEPs. Bart Staes said: "This vote would clearly strengthen the hand of member states that want to prohibit GMO cultivation under the proposed new rules, ensuring they have a watertight basis for banning cultivation."
Linda McAvan MEP, a member of the Socialists and Democrats group, said: "Under the terms of this vote, member states will be obliged to prevent contamination of GMO-free crops and other products on their territory and in the border areas of neighbouring member states."
Some MEPs wanted to dismiss the proposals altogether due to concerns about transferring powers from the commission to member states.
Green MEP Margrete Auken said: "The commission is hoping that partially renationalising competences on GM cultivation will lead to swifter and easier EU level authorisations. This cloak and dagger approach to GM authorisations is at total odds with public will, with a large majority of EU citizens opposed to GMOs."
Greenpeace said the "voice of reason" had prevailed. Its EU agriculture policy adviser Stefanie Hundsdorfer added: "Environmental impacts are a major danger of GM crops and including these into law will help governments ban them from Europe's fields. Without these grounds, national bans would be in danger of being overturned by biotech companies in court."
The committee also voted for all member states to take mandatory measures against GM contamination, and for biotech companies to give access to material required for independent research into any potential risks. The parliament as a whole will vote on the proposals on June 7.
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H - London, UK