November 2, 2015
EU Parliament rejects national GMO ban proposal
The European Parliament has rejected a draft EU law that would enable any EU member state to restrict or prohibit the sale and use of EU-approved GMO food or feed on its territory. Earlier the environment committee of the EU Parliament rejected the same draft law.
The Parliament voted 577 to 75, with 38 abstention, approving the recommendation of Italian member of Parliament Giovanni La Via, who is chairman of the environment committee, to reject the draft law proposed by the European Commission (EC).
Explaining the rejection of the draft law, the Parliament said members were concerned that the law might prove unworkable or could lead to the reintroduction of border checks between pro- and anti-GMO countries.
According to La Via, the vote "gave a clear signal to the European Commission", adding the proposal "could turn on its head what has been achieved with the single market and the customs union".
He said, "Over the last few months, serious concerns have been expressed about the lack of any impact assessment, the proposal's compatibility with the single market, and also whether it is actually feasible. There was no evaluation of the potential consequences or of other available options.
"I believe that this proposal could have negative consequences for agriculture in the EU, which is heavily dependent on protein supplies from GMO sources. It could also have indirect negative effects on imports. Finally, there are concerns over whether this proposal could even be implemented, because there are no border controls in the EU".
The proposal was tabled by the EU Commission on April 22 following the enforcement of a new law granting national governments the power to ban the cultivation of GM crops within their territories even if they may have been approved by the law-making body.
'Difficult to enforce'
The Parliament said the law enabling a member state to ban the cultivation of EU-approved genetically modified crops was easier to implement as cultivation "necessarily takes place on a member state's territory", whereas "GMO trade crosses borders, which means that a national 'sales and use' ban could be difficult or impossible to enforce without reintroducing border checks on imports".
European Commissioner for Health and Food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, menwhile, said the EC would not withdraw the legislative proposal, which will be discussed by EU ministers.
In a related development, the EU Food and Feed Chain Coalition said in a statement that it felt relieved by the decision of the European Parliament, saying the Coalition "strongly opposes the proposal and calls on the EU Commission to withdraw it".
It said enabling member states to ban EU-approved GMOs "is in clear contradiction with the core principles of the EU's internal market".
"By allowing that scientific findings on the safety of products be plainly overruled by non-science-based restrictions to the free movement of goods, the Commission would be setting a dangerous precedent (added to the legalised restrictions on GMO cultivation) that would severely undermine the reliability of the European food and feed chain. Dismantlement of the single market will destabilise the balance of the EU commodities market and have a negative impact on the EU budget", the Coalition said.
The Coalition added that the EC proposal would result in substantial commercial and legal risks for operators, condemning them to overly high costs and undue trade disruptions.-Rick Alberto