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European Parliament rejects national GM bans proposal

30 October 2015  •  Author(s): Victoria White

A draft EU law that would enable any EU member state to restrict or prohibit the sale and use of EU-approved Genetically Modified (GM) food or feed on its territory was rejected by the European Parliament on Wednesday.

gm

Members are concerned that the law might prove unworkable or that it could lead to the reintroduction of border checks between pro- and anti-GM countries. They call on the Commission to table a new proposal.

“Today’s vote gave a clear signal to the European Commission. This proposal could turn on its head what has been achieved with the single market and the customs union”, said rapporteur Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT), whose recommendation to reject the proposal was approved by 577 votes to 75, with 38 abstentions.

“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”, he added.

“I believe that this proposal could have negative consequences for agriculture in the EU, which is heavily dependent on protein supplies from GM 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”, he concluded.

A national ban ‘difficult or impossible’ to enforce without border checks on imports

The proposal, which would amend existing EU legislation to enable member states to restrict or prohibit the use of EU-approved genetically modified food and feed on their territory, was tabled by the EU Commission on 22 April 2015.

The Commission suggested that this proposal should be modelled on another EU law, on GMs intended for cultivation, which entered into force in early April 2015. This allows member states to ban the cultivation of EU-approved GMs on their territory.

But whereas cultivation necessarily takes place on a member state’s territory, GM 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 has said that the European Commission will not withdraw the legislative proposal, which will be discussed by EU ministers.

Leading organisations issue a stark warning to the UK Government

Leading farming, agricultural and plant science organisations have issued a stark warning to the UK Government about the impact of European legislation on GM feed imports.

The report – ‘Going against the grain’ – calls on the UK Government to reject EU proposals to allow national bans for GM feed and food imports, in order to protect British farmers and consumers from market disruptions and increased prices. Any disruption to imports of GM feed could lead to price hikes in everyday items such as milk, eggs and bacon if farmers and breeders are prevented from accessing their main source of protein feed.

Launched in Parliament yesterday, at a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science & Technology in Agriculture, the report has been endorsed by five organisations spanning the entire food chain.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Julian Little, abc Chairman, said, “New laws passed by the EU give Member States the right to introduce national bans on the cultivation of approved GM crops.

“Now, the Commission wants to nationalise bans for GM feed and food imports too. Coupled with the continued backlog in approvals of GM products for import, this will have a devastating impact on the future of UK agriculture.

“Astonishingly, the plans remain on the table even though they have been rejected by the European Parliament. We are calling for the UK Government to listen to its farmers, food producers and scientists to continue its sound approach and resist marginal political interference.”

The report can be found here: www.abcinformation.org

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