Tuesday

16th Apr 2024

EU to give countries greater powers on GM food

  • If products were genetically modified, the EU commission would want countries to decide for themselves if they wanted to allow them (Photo: Kup, Kup)

The European Commission wants to give individual member states the power to ban food products made from genetically modified organisms, even if those GM foods have been given an EU-wide stamp of approval.

The plan has been laid down in a review of the GMO authorisation process, which EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker tasked his food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis to write. A draft copy of the review was seen by this website.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe as a group

The idea to grant EU countries opt-outs for GM food products comes after a similar change in EU rules on cultivation of GM crops on EU territory.

“This proposal is largely inspired from this Directive [on GMO cultivation], including its objectives and the mechanisms foreseen to achieve them. The conclusions drawn by the Union legislature during the negotiation process can thus be applied to this proposal.”

Before genetically modified organisms can enter the EU, either as food products (both for humans and animals), or as ingredients, they must have acquired authorisation.

“Until recently, the Union legal framework did not allow member states to oppose to the use of GMOs for cultivation and other uses and GM food and feed on their territory by other means than expressing a negative vote during the decision-making process leading to the authorisation of GMOs and GM food and feed or, once the authorisation is granted, by invoking safeguard clauses/emergency clauses”, the draft text reads.

Member states are only allowed to prohibit an already authorised GMOs or GM food if that country can show it will pose a risk to the population's health or environment.

“However, the issue raised by member states, which oppose authorisations, have usually nothing to do with science, but rather concern other aspects of the societal debate in their country.”

The commission wants to give countries the option to opt out on other grounds as well, as long as the arguments are "reasoned and based on compelling grounds" and "proportional and non-discriminatory".

NGOs that oppose the use of GMOs are likely to oppose the plan. As with the cultivation opt-out, a side-effect may be that if anti-GMO countries are able to ban GM foods, they will no longer block the often deadlocked EU-wide authorisation process.

Commissioner Andriukaitis is due to publish the review before the end of the month.

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.

EU to return GMO powers to states

The EU commission has proposed giving member states the power to ban the use of GMOs in human and animal food products, but there are already concerns about whether the plans are workable.

EU puts Sudan war and famine-risk back in spotlight

The EU is hoping to put the international spotlight back on Sudan amid a war where half the population is at risk of famine. And Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief, also warned of Russia's presence in the country.

Opinion

Private fears of fairtrade activist for EU election campaign

I am not sleeping well, tossing and turning at night because I am obsessed about the EU election campaign, worried by geopolitical tensions, a far-right next parliament, and a backlash against the Green Deal, writes Sophie Aujean of Fairtrade International.

Opinion

Private fears of fairtrade activist for EU election campaign

I am not sleeping well, tossing and turning at night because I am obsessed about the EU election campaign, worried by geopolitical tensions, a far-right next parliament, and a backlash against the Green Deal, writes Sophie Aujean of Fairtrade International.

Latest News

  1. EU puts Sudan war and famine-risk back in spotlight
  2. EU to blacklist Israeli settlers, after new sanctions on Hamas
  3. Private fears of fairtrade activist for EU election campaign
  4. Brussels venue ditches far-right conference after public pressure
  5. How German police pulled the plug on a Gaza conference
  6. EU special summit, MEPs prep work, social agenda This WEEK
  7. EU leaders condemn Iran, urge Israeli restraint
  8. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us