Poland has become the eighth European country to ban the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as safe for cultivation, after an EU approval deadline passed this week.
Poland has opted to take advantage of a ‘safeguard clause’ that allows individual nations to reject EU approval of GM crops. Monsanto’s MON810 maize, which is resistant to the European corn borer pest, and BASF’s Amflora potato, cultivated for industrial starch, are the only two crops that have been approved for cultivation in the European Union.
“The government has kept its word,” Greenpeace Poland Stop GMO campaign coordinator Joanna Bear said in a statement. “However, this is not the end of our campaign. Now we need to make sure that the European Commission does not manage to lift the Polish bans like it ineffectively attempted to do earlier, when other countries introduced similar bans. We have to also make sure crops will be effectively controlled, and the ban on cultivation observed.”
The cultivation ban will come into effect on January 28.
Individual member states can ban the cultivation of individual crops as long as they can provide evidence that the crop may be harmful. Poland’s Ministry of Agriculture cited concerns that GM crops might cross-pollinate with non-GM crops and the threat of MON810 maize pollen finding its way into honey.
BASF has already pulled its Amflora potato out of Europe last year, citing opposition to the technology. It has said it intends to focus on other, less restrictive markets in the United States and Asia.
Eight European countries have now banned cultivation of GM crops within their borders: Poland, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece and Bulgaria.