EU - EU member states have reached an agreement on new legislation allowing them to restrict, or ban, the cultivation of crops containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on their own territory, even if it is allowed at EU level.
The agreement reached on the directive, which goes into effect Spring 2015, will ensure more flexibility for member states who wish to restrict the cultivation of the GMOs in their country.
It will, moreover, signpost a debate which is far from over between pro - and anti - GMO positions.
Frédérique Ries (ALDE, BE) who is steering the legislation through Parliament said: "As to what comes next, I place my trust in Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's formal pledge to strengthen the democratic process on GMOs in Europe and ensure that research is genuinely independent.
"This agreement was long overdue and we welcome this result, if confirmed by the Council and the House. Member states wishing to restrict or ban GMOs would now have the possibility to do so, without facing the risk of being taken to court.
"It is important to let the member states take a decision in full subsidiarity, and to listen to our citizens, who, in certain member states, refuse to have GMOs forced upon them," said Environment Committee Chair Giovanni La Via.
Risk assessment and management
The approved text would entitle member states to pass legally binding acts restricting or prohibiting the cultivation of GMO crops even after they have been authorised at EU level.
The new rules would allow member states to ban GMOs stating environmental policy objectives as a justification.
These objectives would relate to environmental impacts other than the risks to health and environment assessed during the scientific risk assessment. Bans could also include groups of GMOs designated by crop or trait.
Responding to the announcement, EU Commissioner Andriukaitis said: "I am glad to announce that yesterday evening the European Parliament and the Council have reached a provisional political agreement on the draft legislation on GMO cultivation.
"The proposal, still subject to confirmation by Coreper and by the plenary of the European Parliament, will give Member States the possibility to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs on their territory, without affecting the EU risk assessment.
"The agreement, if confirmed, would meet Member States' consistent calls since 2009, to have the final say on whether or not GMOs can be cultivated on their territory, in order to better take into account their national context and, above all, the views of their citizens."
TheCropSite News Desk