The proposal, which parallels an earlier laws that has allowed individual Member States to restrict the cultivation of GM crops by allowing countries also have the right to ban or restrict the sale of genetically modified food and feed products within their territory, was voted down by Members of European Parliament (MEPs) after its public health and food safety (ENVI) committee and Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) committee rejected the proposals last month.
Parliament followed the lead of its ENVI and AGRI committees by rejecting the proposal and calling for a new version.
Both pro-GM and anti-GM camps celebrated the rejection of the Commission bill – after both raised concerns when it was initially put forward in April.
EuropaBio, the European association for bio-industries, said the only viable solution for fixing the malfunctioning GMO approval system “is to authorise safe products within legally prescribed timelines, as is commonplace for all other categories of regulated products.”
The association has previously underlined the benefits that GM products have already brought to Europe and, and in April warned that legislation allowing country specific ban of foods and feed that contain GM products ‘would be a logistical nightmare’ and may limit the growth, competitiveness, and integrity of a European free market.
“If approved, such a proposal would undermine the internal market and farmers’ livelihoods and set off alarm bells for any innovative industry looking to invest in Europe,” said Leticia Gonçalves, Chairman of the Agri-Food Council of EuropaBio
Meanwhile, the anti-GM environmental group Greenpeace called the legislative proposal ‘ill-conceived’ – adding that under the proposal any national bans would have been impossible to defend in court against the EU’s internal market rules “because the Commission ruled out health or environmental concerns as legitimate justifications for an opt-out.”
“Today’s vote is a resounding ‘no’ to the Commission’s plan to give EU governments a fake right to stop the use of GM food and animal feed on their territory,” said Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace EU food policy director. “The Juncker Commission has promised to make the GM approval process more democratic, but failed to reform the authorisation rules. Instead, it retained its disproportionate powers to approve GM crops on the basis of incomplete risk assessments and against widespread public and political opposition”.