The European Parliament and EU Member State governments reached an agreement late this week to give individual EU countries or regions extended powers to ban the cultivation of genetically modified crops, even if they have been authorised for use elsewhere by the EU.
Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, had taken part in a broad coalition of political groups in Parliament 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.
“At the Committee in charge, in Parliament, we wanted to ensure a broad coalition to signal to EU governments that our citizens’ concerns must be respected even when GMOs have been deemed safe and authorised by European agency experts.
“We thus broadened 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.
“This is also why we demanded strong measures to prevent cross-border contamination across regions or countries, including the use of buffer zones to protect conventional and organic crops.”
“The agreement on a common text clears the way for approval by Parliament’s Environment committee in mid-December, which could be followed by a final European Parliament vote as early as next January.”