Germany opts out of growing GMO crops

Christian Schmidt (Left). Washington, December 2014. [Former Members of Congress/Flickr]

Germany has told the European Union it will ban cultivation of crops with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), under new European Union rules allowing member states to opt out of GMO cultivation, a document seen by Reuters showed yesterday (30 September).

German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt has informed the EU Commission that Germany will not permit GMO cultivation on its territory, a letter from Germany’s Agriculture Ministry to the Commission seen by Reuters shows.

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

Under the new EU rules, countries must by 3 October 2015, inform the EU Commission if they wish to opt out of new EU GMO cultivation approvals.

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

Schmidt has made the move although a draft law allowing the opt out is still going through the German parliament and is unlikely to be approved by 3 October.

There is general agreement in Germany that it should ban GMOs but disagreement whether the bans should be undertaken by federal or state authorities.

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

Subscribe to our newsletters