4th Jul 2022

Greece ordered to lift GMO ban

The European Commission has ordered Greece to lift its ban on planting genetically modified (GMO) maize seeds made by US biotech giant Monsanto.

The Greek government banned the seeds in April 2005, saying it believed the products presented a health danger, but Greece did not supply the necessary information to support this move, the commission stated in its decision, according to news wires.

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  • Greece has consistently voted against proposals for new GMO authorisations in the EU (Photo: EUobserver)

The decision has not yet been publicly announced.

Greece has consistently voted against proposals for new GMO authorisations in the EU, along with a majority of EU member states.

But there was no qualified majority in the council, the member states' decision-making body, necessary to block new GMO authorisations.

As there was no majority in the council to give a green light either, the matter was transferred back to the commission for a decision.

The commission subsequently decided to provide authorisation for GMOs.

"By overruling the Greek government's attempt to protect its fields from contamination by this GM maize, the commission is showing its contempt for the majority of EU citizens and 165 regions that say they do not want GMOs," Greenpeace said in a comment.

Possible court case

The Greek farmers' union (GESASE) said it would send a letter to Greek agriculture minister Evangelos Basiakos, urging him to file an appeal at the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

"This will be a first-class opportunity for the government which says it opposes genetically modified products to prove it," GESASE financial advisor Nikos Lapas told Reuters.

But the chance of success is limited, after the Court of First Instance - the EU's second highest EU court - in October last year prohibited the region of Upper Austria to ban the growth of genetically modified crops.

EU policy on GMOs is based on a 2001 EU law, which provides for a case-by-case authorisation regime for the release of GMO products on the bloc's common market, on the basis of a safety check by both national authorities and the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA).

Europe a \"next opportunity\" for Monsanto

The US-based biotech giant, Monsanto is aiming to genetically modify all of Europe's maize over the next four years, according to a new report by environmental NGO Friends of the Earth released on Tuesday (10 January) .

Monsanto has announced to its investors that it sees Europe as a "next opportunity" and highlighted that in the four years up to 2010, there is market potential to introduce 59 million hectares of its Roundup Ready maize and 32 million hectares of its YieldGard insect-resistant maize.

In addition, it is aiming to introduce 1 million acres of its GM soybeans.

Monsanto currently has permission to grow only one type of insect-resistant maize in the EU.

Regions not allowed to ban GMOs, court rules

The European Commission won a legal battle on GMOs on Wednesday, as the Austrian region of Upper Austria was prohibited by the EU Court to ban the growing of genetically modified crops.

Green crime-fighting boss urgently required, key MEP says

The European Parliament approved last week a non-binding resolution on illegal logging, calling to extend the EU public prosecutor's mandate to also cover environmental crime. The lead MEP on the file has called for urgent implementation.

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