The European Union is giving member states the power to ban the cultivation of genetically modified foods. The EU’s 28 states approved a measure that will give national governments the power to decide whether or not to allow or ban genetically modified foods, based on their own preferences and needs.
Mute Schimpf of Friends of the Earth Europe says the new law "is a massive opportunity for national governments to shut the door on biotech crops in Europe."
Thus far, only one GMO crop has been planted in Europe. GMO corn, planted mostly in Spain and Portugal, has made its way into EU territory, but there’s been a general skepticism of GMO crops. Several crops have won approval in the EU, but only Monsanto's MON810 maize has actually been planted after it was first cleared in 1998. Two other corn crops plus BASF's Amflora potato were abandoned.
"This agreement will ensure more flexibility for member states who wish to restrict the cultivation of the GMOs in their territory," said Liberal Democrat MEP Frederique Ries, who steered the legislation through the assembly, reported on Phys.org.
Some member states—for example, France—fear GMO crops threaten their way of life and their food system as a whole, while other countries like Great Britain are much more accepting like the U.S. Other reasons for the refusal of GMO crops include the threat to public health, land use, agricultural policy, and possible socioeconomic policies. But other member states think not allowing GMOs threatens innovation.
According to Genewatch:
From the Organic Authority Files
GM crops and food can enter Europe as food, animal feed, or biofuels. GM food and feed must be approved by EU regulators and must be labelled, but meat and dairy products produced from animals fed on GM feed are not required to be labelled. In 2011, the EU decided to allow low levels of unapproved GM crops in animal feed.
Now crops can be individually allowed or banned based on each member state’s needs. While in the U.S. the abundance of GMO crops mean they make their way into 70 percent of processed foods, in the EU, it’s currently much easier to avoid them because most foods containing GMOs must be labeled as such.
Related on Organic Authority
Image of a corn field via Shuttershock