Genetically modified feed may be less likely after EU vote

By Keith Nuthall

- Last updated on GMT

The new EU directive comes in response to Europeans’ growing concerns about GMOs
The new EU directive comes in response to Europeans’ growing concerns about GMOs

Related tags European union Gm

European Union (EU) meat and livestock producers are less likely to worry that their animals have fed on fodder contaminated with genetically modified (GM) material following a European Parliament vote to allow EU member states more power to block the cultivation of GM crops.

Once the EU Council of Ministers backs this stance – which it informally backed in December – national governments can stop farmers within their jurisdiction from growing GM material, even when the cultivation of such crops has been approved by EU regulators.

Member states could cite objections such as town and country planning requirements, socio-economic impact, avoiding the unintended presence of GMOs in other products, and farm policy objectives for blocking GM cultivation. Bans could be of specific crops, or of groups of GMOs designated by crop or trait.

The decision reflects a victory for anti-GM member states – debates over rules on whether governments can block cultivation have dragged on since 2010. But it could also, in theory, allow governments who favour GM food and feed to allow it to be grown in their countries. The new rules will come into force by April, assuming a quick council vote on the issue.

The Belgian Liberal MEP Frédérique Ries, who steered the law through the parliament, welcomed the decision, saying the new EU directive was "in response to Europeans’ growing concerns about GMOs".​ Ries said it would allow governments to handle their own GM policy rather than having decisions made by courts.

MON810 maize is currently the only GM crop cultivated in the EU. Farming of the ‘Amflora’ GM potato was banned by the EU’s General Court (the junior European Court of Justice) in 2013, after receiving initial approval from the European Commission.

Under the Directive, member states have to ensure that GM crops do not contaminate other products through their seed and pollen, especially cross-border contamination with neighbouring countries.

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