Europe's Big NO to Half Baked GMO Compromises

Molly Scott Cato MEP | Ecologist | November 3, 2015

Photo of European Parliament by Michal Sänger via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).Last week something almost unprecedented occurred in the European Parliament. All the political groups joined together to roundly reject a proposal on GMOs from the Commission. The issue was a botched attempt to break the majority opposition to allowing GM food and feed into the single market. This followed a similarly bad proposal to facilitate GM cultivation which was voted on in January.

The Parliamentary vote this time round focused on the possibility for Member States to restrict or prohibit the use of GM food or feed on their territory. During the plenary debate several speakers reminded the Parliament that it is a year since President Juncker agreed to democratise the EU's flawed GMO authorisation procedure. In reality, what is proposed is not democratisation but buck passing to Member States who will face significant legal uncertainty if they choose to 'opt-out' of GM on their territory.

With Member States unable to invoke health or environment concerns to justify such an opt-out decision, they could easily be challenged on an opt-out decision the grounds that it severely impacts the internal market. Indeed, in a hearing with the Parliament's Environment committee, the Commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness admitted that Member States would need to "consider the impacts of such measures very carefully." It is clear that under corporate pressure, the Commission has reneged on the promise to democratise the authorisation procedure...