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Approval Pending For New EU Agreement To Further Restrict and Ban GMO Cultivation

Ministers of the European Council have reached an initial agreement, that if formally approved by the council and the European Parliament, will create additional restrictions and bans to those already existing for the cultivation of GMOs within the territories of European countries.

GMO crops. Image courtesy of policymic.com.

If approved soon, the new bans and restrictions could go into effect as early as this spring.

These newly proposed rules would be different from the current regulations for two reasons – they would only be concerned with the cultivation of GMOs and the restrictions would not be based on health and environmental related concerns that are already addressed by current regulations.

The new regulations are designed to give European countries more freedom in addressing socioeconomic issues, including land use and town planning, agricultural policy objectives, and public policy issues.

Among the specific issues will be excluding GMOs from certain areas to eliminate the risk of contaminating conventional and organic crops.

A report from the European Commission talked about needing to give member countries the ability to take actions that would be deemed appropriate so they could “avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in conventional and organic crops.”

The report argued the need to give individual countries more latitude, explaining that certain types of agricultural production such as organic crops are often more costly, and the possibility of losing the associated price premiums due to the unintended presence of GMOs could result in significant economic damages to these types of crops.

As part of this report, the commission also explained that many European countries have already developed national standards for different types of GMO-free labeling and that even trace amounts of GMOs in particular food products could result in economic damages to producers that want to market their products as non-GMO.

The commission also says that to justify new bans or restrictions in their territories, countries would need to demonstrate that “other measures are not sufficient to prevent the unintended presence of GMOs in conventional and organic crops.”   

A circumstance, for example, where the new bans or restrictions would be applicable, according the council, would be if a country cultivates GMOs, but needs to take measures to avoid cross-border contamination into neighboring countries where those GMOs are banned.

And even in these circumstances, the council stresses that these measures would only apply if there are no natural geographic barriers to prevent cross contamination. The council also added that justification for these restrictions would need to be on a GMO-specific case-by-case basis and based on a scientific risk assessment.

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