Tuesday

18th Feb 2020

MEPs allow national bans on GM crops

  • The only genetically modified crop that is currently cultivated on EU territory is a maize, called MON 810 (Photo: CIMMYT)

MEPs in the environment committee on Tuesday (11 November) said member states should have the right to ban genetically modified crops from their territory even if the EU has already approved them for cultivation.

The environment committee approved the change to an already existing directive from 2001 concerning genetically modified organisms (GMOs), with 53 votes in favour and 11 against.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The changes were the subject of major discussion between MEPs and national governments.

Following the environment committee vote, more negotiations will start a compromise text with a first meeting between representatives of the commission, parliament and council due to start on Tuesday evening.

There are several areas of dispute.

Parliament wants countries to be able to ban groups of GMOs or even all GMOs. The member states themselves want a request for a ban to be made for every separate crop.

Another divergence between parliament and council is the list of reasons why a country can ban a GM crop from its territory with MEPs wanting to extend the list.

Parliament has also ditched a member-state idea that a request for a ban should be made within two years of a crop being authorised.

There is also disagreement over whether the country that wants an opt-out, has to square it with the GM-producing company first.

Critics says this would open the possibility for companies to influence a country.

“Member states have to go to [GM seed producer] Syngenta and ask: please Syngenta, can you exclude our territory?”, said Marco Contiero of Greenpeace. “You oblige a sovereign state to strike a deal with a private company.”

Nathalie Moll, secretary general of industry group EuropaBio, downplayed the industry's ability to influence nations through the proposed deal-making.

“Have we managed so far?”, she asked rhetorically. “I often hear 'the GMO lobby', but the GMO lobby? We have had only one approval since 1998.”

The only GM crop that is currently cultivated on EU territory is a maize, called MON 810. It was authorized in 1998. It grows mostly in Spain (137,000 hectares in 2013) and comprises 1.56 percent of all maize grown in the EU, according to the commission.

The so-called Amflora potato was authorized in 2010, but it is no longer cultivated in the EU.

While Greenpeace say MEPs "have radically improved the text adopted by the council", EuropeBio has called the opt-out plan “the non-cultivation proposal”.

Once negotiations are finished, the final compromise text will still have to be adopted by parliament and council.

EU allows countries to ban GMOs

New rules allow European countries to ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops on their territories, although critics fear they are a "Trojan horse" which will lead to an increase of GMOs in Europe.

What will Brexit mean for climate action in EU and UK?

The UK is leaving the EU after playing a key role in climate action - just as COP26 comes to Glasgow. With so many policy negotiations ahead, a split between London and Brussels post-Brexit could undermine the 2050 emissions-neutrality goal.

Timmermans: EU climate law will 'discipline' rogue states

The first EU-wide climate law will be a "disciplining" exercise to implement the Green Deal - although the Polish climate minister Michal Kurtyka warned the EU Commission about the social cost of delivering the green transition.

News in Brief

  1. EU budget to introduce rule-of-law condition
  2. Far-right rally meets counter protests in Dresden
  3. Chief negotiator: UK will not align with EU standards
  4. Budget commissioner sold off energy shares in January
  5. German far-right group 'planned mosque attacks'
  6. German family minister urges gender quotas in boardrooms
  7. Decision on Catalan MEPs' extradition postponed again
  8. German court orders Tesla to stop cutting down trees

What will Brexit mean for climate action in EU and UK?

The UK is leaving the EU after playing a key role in climate action - just as COP26 comes to Glasgow. With so many policy negotiations ahead, a split between London and Brussels post-Brexit could undermine the 2050 emissions-neutrality goal.

Timmermans: EU climate law will 'discipline' rogue states

The first EU-wide climate law will be a "disciplining" exercise to implement the Green Deal - although the Polish climate minister Michal Kurtyka warned the EU Commission about the social cost of delivering the green transition.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us