Wednesday

20th Feb 2019

Agriculture MEPs call for rejection of GMO plan

  • 'The Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development calls on the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, as the committee responsible, to propose rejection of the Commission proposal' (Photo: Chiot's Run)

MEPs from the agriculture committee spoke out on Thursday (3 September) against a proposal by the European Commission to allow member states to ban the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), in the first legal protest following an already widely verbalised opposition to the plan.

A majority in the committee voted to accept without amendments the text written by German centre-right MEP Albert Dess, calling on the EP's environmental committee - which has the lead in the dossier - “to propose rejection of the commission proposal”.

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“The first time the proposal was discussed, all seven groups said that it should be rejected”, Dess said ahead of the vote. “I've never seen that before in eleven years.”

The commission wants to give member states the power to ban the use of GMOs in human and animal food, even if they have been authorised on an EU level.

The plan, announced last April, needs support from both the European Parliament and national governments before it can become law.

But the proposal received widespread criticism from left-wing and right-wing parties, and from both pro- and anti-GMO countries.

Critics say that the proposal would not be compatible with the EU's rules on free movement of goods, and that national governments would have no way to enforce a ban.

It would be unusual for a commission proposal to be flat-out rejected by the parliament, which also has the option to propose changes to the draft bill.

The draft report from the environment committee, which has the final say on the EP's position in this file, written by centre-right Italian Giovanni La Via, also calls on the commission to withdraw the proposal. It will be voted on later this year.

With its plan, the EU's executive body hopes to break the deadlock in the authorisation process, where there is rarely a qualified majority due to widely diverging views on GMOs.

In practice, this means that the Commission will take the final decision to approve GMOs for which its scientific body has given the go-ahead - and will be held accountable to citizens and member states who oppose GMOs.

In July, agriculture ministers already expressed their opposition to the plan.

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