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Parliament to vote on further GMO controls

The European Parliament will vote on 5 July on a proposal which would allow member states to curb the use of genetically modified organisms on environmental grounds.

The proposal drawn up by the French liberal MEP, Corinne Lepage, is intended to provide legal protection against challenges from the US and other international trading partners through the World Trade Organisation.

In 2006 the WTO supported a US-led challenge to the European Union’s moratorium on the use of GM products, declaring it illegal under international trade rules.

“This vote is a clear signal from the Parliament to the Council and Commission: the EU authorisation system should be maintained but it should be acknowledged that some agricultural and environmental effects, as well as the socio-economic impact linked to contamination, can be cited by member states to justify a ban or restriction on GMO cultivation,” said Lepage.

If the proposal is passed, member states will be able to restrict or ban GMO cultivation on agro-environmental grounds, such as pesticide resistance, the invasiveness of certain crops and threats to biodiversity. However, the measure is not supported by the European Commission, which would allow the ban only on socio-economic, ethical and moral grounds.

Member states will not be able to ban GMOs on health grounds, as that already forms part of the current EU authorisation process. Nor would it change the safety approval procedure for GM crops, which is carried out by the European Commission on the basis of an independent risk assessment from the European Food Safety Authority.