9th Mar 2021

EU moves closer to lifting ban on GMOs

MEPs gave their go-ahead for the lifting of the European ban on Genetically Modified Foods by introducing a labelling system which would enable consumers to choose whether or not to buy GM foods.

The EU hopes that by lifting its moratorium, it will ease tensions between the EU and other countries, particularly the US, and the World Trade Organisation.

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The US has been hoping for the past 5 years that the EU will lift its moratorium. Until the ban is actually lifted, the US will persevere with its request to the WTO that a panel be set up to debate the moratorium.

Greek Conservative MEP Antonios Trakatellis, who drafted one of the legislation texts approved on Wednesday, (2 July) by the European Parliament, told EUobserver that Europe’s ban on GMOs has caused the European biotechnological industry to lag behind.

Although he is pleased with the vote, he would prefer to see improved techniques to detect traces of GM in food and feed.

Foodstuffs containing more than 0.9% GM to be labelled

MEPs are therefore calling on the Commission to submit a report after the implementation of this regulation to check whether loopholes exist and whether it is effective.

Mr Trakatellis is confident that EU ministers will accept the text adopted by the European Parliament, thereby opening the door for this legislation to come into force by next autumn.

The new scheme will extend mandatory labelling to products such as oil and sugar, which do not require labelling under the current rules. The legislation will also allow EU countries to take measures to prevent contamination of conventional and organic crops by genetically modified organisms.

MEPs have also backed EU ministers in calling for any foodstuffs containing more than 0.9% GM to be clearly labelled.

However, some think this level is too high. Friends of the Earth had campaigned for much stricter levels of closer to 0.1%.

EU agriculture ministers are set to approve the new legislation some time later this month.

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EU Agriculture Commissioner, Franz Fischler urged EU ministers to lift the ban on GMO food, as the EU risks facing legal challenge by the US and other countries at the World Trade Organisation.


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