is planning to allow each member state to decide whether to grow GM foods
or to ban them.
European Commission today published proposals that it said were designed
to give countries more freedom and flexibility over the cultivation of genetically
modified crops. But opponents of 'Frankenstein foods' warned that the changes
would speed up the approval regime for the controversial crops and ensure
that efforts by some states to block them will be side-stepped.
EU countries vote together on whether to allow applications to grow new
GM crops. In future, once scientists working for the commission approve
a new crop or food as safe, any of the 27 member states will be allowed
to grow it or put in on shop shelves. Other
countries, which in the past might have blocked approval, will be able to
implement their own boycott.
commission said the new regime, which must still be approved by EU governments
and the European Parliament, 'seeks to achieve the right balance between
maintaining an EU authorisation system and the freedom for member states
to decide on GM cultivation in their territory'.
and consumer policy commissioner John Dalli said: 'Experience with GM organisms
so far shows that member states need more flexibility to organise the co-
existence of GM and other types of crops such as conventional and organic
thorough safety assessment and a reinforced monitoring system are priorities
in GM cultivation and are therefore being pursued vigorously.'
Opposition: The issue of GM crops is still a divisive one, as illustrated
by this cheeky protest from the 'Barewitness' group in Sussex
there are concerns that Britain's Conservative-Lib Dem Government will follow
the same pro-GM agenda adopted by the last Labour government. Despite massive
opposition from British shoppers, successive administrations have been pressing
for the acceptance of GM farming across Europe. This
support has been maintained-despite concerns for human health and evidence
from the U.S. of the emergence of GM superweeds such as pigweed that are
choking some farms.
Spelman, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary, has a history
of supporting genetically modified crops through her links to the farming
industry. And the Food Standards Agency is facing accusations that it is
trying to push GM on to dinner plates through a planned £500,000 consultation
American agro-chemical giants behind GM farming see the move by the EU as
a vital step towards getting consumers on this side of the Atlantic to accept
their crops. Previously, the U.S. government has complained to the World
Trade Organisation that attempts to block GM by European governments are
an illegal restraint of free trade.
Schimpf, Friends of the Earth Europe's food campaigner, said: 'While the
commission is seemingly offering countries the right to implement national
bans, in reality the proposal aims to do the opposite - opening Europe's
fields to GM crops.
commission continues to fail to protect Europe's food and feed from contamination
by GM crops, and we urge countries to reject this deal as it stands.'
a coalition of community groups and green campaigners, said: 'The proposals
have been produced to try to overcome member state opposition to the commercial
cultivation approval of GM crops.
member states are not happy with the safety assessments of GM crops for
cultivation on health and environmental grounds and have demanded a tougher
concern is that the plans do not offer safeguards and compensation to organic
and conventional farmers whose crops are contaminated by GM pollen.
director Pete Riley added: 'Member states need to ensure that in the short
and long-term they will be able to ban a GM crop without ending up in court
or with a WTO dispute.'