GMO bans in Europe set to progress

Posted Nov 16, 2014 by Tim Sandle
An environmental committee of the European Parliament has approved legislation that allows member states to ban genetically engineered crops.
An English hay meadow
An English hay meadow
John Rodwell
The legislation is complex and does not completely resolve the issue of genetically engineered crops (or the use of genetically modified organisms). The Environmental Committee of the European Parliament approved plans to allow members states to ban genetically engineered crops; this is even if the European Union (EU), overall, has approved them.
The outcome has pleased many environmental groups. For example, Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director, said on the group's website: "Today’s vote would give European countries a legally solid right to ban GM cultivation in their territory, making it difficult for the biotech industry to challenge such bans in court."
Outlining this in more detail, Parliament member Frédérique Ries of Belgium said in a parliamentary session: "The measures approved today [November 11] will secure flexibility for member states to restrict, ban the cultivation of GMO crops if they so wish. At the same time, we have secured a clear process for the authorization of GMOs at EU level, with improved safeguards and a key role for the European Food Safety Authority, which is important for us."
The outcome reflects differences between European nations to the use of genetically engineered crops. Some nations are strongly opposed, such as France, while others, like the U.K., are supportive.
If the parliamentary recommendation is put into place then the new rules, Science Insider reports, would give countries the latitude to ban GMO crops on environmental grounds without having to negotiate with the companies that make them.