Majority of EU countries in favour of GMO compromise


A majority of EU member countries backed a compromise agreement on GMO authorisation which maintains an EU-wide approval scheme but allows national cultivation bans.

Under the proposals, drafted by Greece, which holds the rotating EU Council presidency, the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) would conduct assessments of GM crops.

If a particular GM crop was deemed unsafe, no member state could approve its cultivation, explained Tonio Borg, the European commissioner for health. If deemed safe, member states would then be free to cultivate the crop or decide to ban it on grounds other than environment or health concerns, such as urban or rural planning or socio-economic impact, he added. The ministers largely disregarded an alternative proposal by the French.

Ministers failed to reach an agreement over whether to allow the cultivation of GM maize Pioneer 1507 last month, paving the way for the Commission to approve the crop by default. 12 of the 19 ministers who had voted against the crop then sent the Commission a letter asking it to withdraw the proposal.

The Greek presidency attempted to break the deadlock on GMO decisions by drafting the compromise text, which is similar to a 2010 Commission proposal giving EU countries the right to ban the crops on their territory.

Most EU environment ministers, who were meeting in Brussels yesterday (3 March), reacted favourably to the Greek proposal, including Germany. Germany's abstention from from the vote on Pioneer 1507 prevented the Council from reaching a majority in that case.

Some EU ministers expressed concerns that the move to re-nationalise GMO decisions would run up against the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Tonio Borg said EU legal advisors had scrutinised the presidency’s proposal and found it legally sound. He warned against further delays to the decision-making process.

“It appears that the majority [of member states] are in favour that we move on. I think this is the right decision,” Borg said.


Corinne Lepage, a French liberal MEP, said the day after the debate: "The Council has not taken into account any of the amendments proposed by the Parliament on the need to address the flaws of the EU authorisation system in the first place and to grant solid legal rights to ban GMOs to Member States. If this weak text is adopted, this will trigger difficult negotiations with the Parliament."

External links: 

Council of the European Union



an european's picture

"Pioneer 1507"

Odh dear , what i hear i fear

Robert Wager's picture

And how would the new proposal be anything but illegal wrt WTO agreements already in place?

Gerry's picture

This is just such an overblown issue. As if there were nothing else to worry about.

George's picture

Greek presidency opening the way for a potentially cancerous food that will enter the food chain.. Not so surprise that this weak presidency would be used so that bigger countries lobby their way (main Germany who was already pro-GMO). This is a VERY important issue. You are what you eat.

Mischa Popoff's picture

Finally European policy makers are waking up to the fact that the science of genetic engineering is the best way to deliver on the promises of the organic industry to provide purer, more nutritious food in a more sustainable manner!