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26/07/2016

Germany initiates move to ban GMO crops

Science & Policymaking

Germany initiates move to ban GMO crops

Christian Schmidt (Left). Washington, December 2014.

[Former Members of Congress/Flickr]

Germany has instigated a move to stop the growing of genetically modified crops under new European Union rules, according to official documents.

Germany will make use of new “opt-out” rules to stop GMO crop cultivation, even if varieties have been approved by the EU.

Christian Schmidt, German’s Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, has informed state governments of his intention to tell the EU of Germany’s intention to use the new clause, according to a letter from the agriculture ministry seen by Reuters.

The move follows pressure from five state governments for a nationwide ban on GMOs instead of the current “patchwork” approach which leaves it up to German states to decide on a ban.

>> Read: German states draft bill for nationwide GMO ban

A new EU law approved in March cleared the way for new GMO crops to be approved after years of previous deadlock. But the law also gave individual countries the right to opt out by banning GMO crops even after they have been approved as safe by the European Commission.

Widely-grown in the Americas and Asia, GMO crops have divided opinion in Europe. Britain is among those in favour of them, while France and Germany are among those opposed.

Previously, when the EU approved crops as safe to produce they had to be permitted for cultivation in all EU states.

In the letter, the ministry stressed that Schmidt is continuing a previously-announced policy to keep a ban on GMOs in Germany.

Under the new EU rules, countries have until 3 October 2015, to inform the Commission that they wish to opt out of new EU GMO cultivation approvals, the ministry letter said.

Schmidt has asked German state authorities to say by 11 September whether their region should be included in the opt-out, the letter said.

Background

The European Commission proposed allowing national cultivation bans for GMOs in July 2010, in a bid to break a deadlock in EU GM crop approvals which has seen few varieties approved for cultivation in more than 12 years.

In the EU only one GM crop is approved for commercial cultivation: insect resistant maize, MON 810.

Of the total area of GM maize grown in the EU in 2012 (129,000 hectares) one country, Spain, contributed more than 90%.

The proposal, which was backed by the EU’s 28 environment ministers in June 2014, gives back “full responsibility” to member states over the cultivation of GMOs on their territory.

For the first time, it formally allows EU countries to opt-out from the Europe-wide approval system.

>> Read our LinksDossier: GMO cultivation in Europe: A decade of legal battles

Further Reading