“The European Parliament has closed ranks to give individual EU countries or regions more leeway to ban the cultivation of genetically modified organisms, even if they have been authorised for use elsewhere by the EU”, Nessa Childers, Independent MEP for Dublin, said today.
Ms. Childers was speaking this morning from Brussels, after a broad coalition of political groups in the Environment and Public Health Committee voted for a proposal to strengthen EU Member States’ powers to decide whether or not to prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in their territory.
Ms. Childers, a member of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee in the European Parliament, said:
“Genetically modified organisms present risks and uncertainties, and we must respect the will of our citizens which, in some countries, is overwhelmingly concerned with the long-term impacts and regional implications of these technologies on human health and the environment.
“Parliament wants to ensure that those concerns are respected even when GMOs have been deemed safe and authorised by European authorities.
“We are thus also broadening the range of aims that countries may invoke against the introduction of GMOs in their territories for environmental, socioeconomic, agricultural and planning policy reasons.
“We are also demanding that the European Commission propose, as a matter of urgency, new rules governing the way the environmental risk assessment of GMOs is conducted, particularly as regards long-term effects, unintended effects on other organisms.
“Easier opt-outs for individual Member States, as we seek in our position, will not convince Parliament that we don’t need to reform our risk assessment procedures. We have been asking the Commission to reform them as far back as 2008.
“This is also why we are pushing for strong measures to prevent cross-border contamination across regions or countries, including the use of buffer zones to protect conventional and organic crops.”
NOTE TO EDITORS
This legislative proposal was today approved, at a second reading, in the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Safety Committee, next steps will be a resumption of negotiations with the Council of Member State ministers to agree a common text.