EU Lawmakers Vote to Expand Ban on GMOs

by jeeg 14. April 2011 22:15

Members of the European Parliament’s Environment Committee voted on April 12, to add “environmental impacts” to a list of grounds on which European Union countries could either ban or restrict GMO (genetically modified organisms) usage.

Greenpeace’s European Unit welcomed the move, as it strengthened the originally weak proposal from the Committee, which restricted EU countries’ right to ban the cultivation of GMO crops.

Greenpeace EU's agriculture policy adviser, Stefanie Hundsdorfer, said "environmental impacts are a major danger of GM crops and that 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 new GMO draft was also designed to give countries stronger legal grounds in face of disputes from trading partners who are opposed to a ban.

At present, EU member states are only able to restrict genetically modified GMO crop cultivation under strict conditions, as authorization licenses are valid across the 27-country bloc, in accordance with the principles of the EU's single market.

"This vote is a clear signal from Parliament ... that some agricultural and environmental impacts can be cited by member states to justify a ban or restriction on GMO cultivation," said French European Parliament member Corrine, who led the vote.

The new proposed rules would allow individual EU states to argue that the invasive qualities of GMO crops might harm local biodiversity, indigenous plants, as well as organic farming enterprises. The main concern for farmers and biologists is that once pollen and seeds from GMO crops are introduced into an ecosystem, it is impossible to control how the modified genes might spread.

The Committee also discussed food labeling. There still exists some division on the topic amongst MEPs, on topics such as mandatory labeling of trans fats, and extending country-of-origin indications. The food labeling is expected to come up for vote on April 19.

EU governments and legislators must jointly approve the draft rules proposed by the Committee, before becoming law.

Parliament will vote in June on the environment Committee's amendments, and other proposed changes to the draft legislation.

Carlen Zhang, Epoch Times


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