GMO ban in Upper Austria is illegal

The Commission rejected Austria’s request for a temporary ban of the use of GMOs in the region of Upper Austria, as there was no new scientific evidence nor particular country-specific conditions to support this request.

In light of the de facto moratorium on GMOs which is currently imposed by a blocking majority of Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark, Greece and Italy, this ruling is seen to set a precendent which might have an effect on future decisions.

The Austrian region of Upper Austria in March 2003 proposed legislation introducing a ban on the cultivation on GM seeds and propagating material used for reproduction, the use of transgenic animals for breeding purposes and the release of transgenic animals for hunting or fishing.

In July 2003, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had concluded that there was no new scientific evidence that would necessitate the banning of GMOs in Upper Austria (see also

EURACTIV 4 June 2003). This conclusion served as a basis of the Commission ruling.

EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, welcomed the decision to defend choice for farmers. "This is not a safety issue", said Simon Barber, Director of the Plant Biotechnology Unit of EuropaBio, "Approved GM products have been judged to be safe and have been put through stricter and more rigorous health and environmental safety tests than their non-GM counterparts."

Upper Austria had announced that it would take the case to the European Court of Justice in the event of a negative decision.


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