Ministers uphold national GMO bans

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EU environment ministers voted, on 24 June 2005, with a large majority against a Commission proposal to allow eight types of genetically modified crops for use in the Union.

The Environment Council on 24 June backed national bans imposed by Austria, France, Germany, Greece and Luxembourg on eight GM products authorised by the Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The vote concerns, among other GM crops, Syngenta’s antibiotic-resistant Bt176 corn and the maize strains T25 by Bayer and MON810 by Monsanto. 

EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, called the ban “illegal”: “The EU’s approval process for safe GMOs is arguably the strictest in the world and these bans are not scientifically justifiable,” said EuropaBio Director Simon Barber. 

Luxembourg’s Environment Minister Lucien Lux stated: “Given the uncertainties over lifting several of these bans, we are satisfied that we have sent a loud and clear message to the European Commission.”

The Environment Council on 24 June backed national bans imposed by Austria, France, Germany, Greece and Luxembourg on eight GM products authorised by the Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Monica Frassoni, co-president of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, said: “The Council’s rejection of the proposals from the European Commission is a first important signal that Europe’s leaders are finally listening to the citizens.”

The EU’s tough regime on GM crops, and in particular the total ban on GMO imports in effect 1999-2004, is currently the subject of a legal complaint against the European Union at the World Trade Organisation. The United States, Canada and Argentina claim that EU biotech policy harms trade and is not founded on science.

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