E.U. committee opposes GMO 'opt-out' law

by World Grain Staff
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STRASBOURG, FRANCE — A draft law that would enable any E.U. member state to restrict or prohibit the sale and use of E.U.-approved GMO food or feed on its territory was opposed by the Environment Committee of the European Parliament on Oct. 13. E.U. members are concerned that the proposal might prove unworkable and lead to the reintroduction of border controls between pro and anti-GMO countries.

“A clear majority in the committee does not want to jeopardize the internal market,” said Environment Committee chair Giovanni La Via. “For us, the existing legislation should remain in place, and member states should shoulder their responsibilities and take a decision together at E.U. level, instead of introducing national bans.”

On April 22, the European Commission presented a proposal amending existing legislation that would allow E.U. member states to restrict or prohibit the use of genetically modified food and feed in their territory.

In its proposal, the commission suggests that it should mirror, in regards to genetically modified food and feed, the recent legislation in respect of GMOs intended for cultivation, which entered into force in early April 2015. It therefore proposes to allow member states to restrict or prohibit, under certain conditions, the use of genetically modified food and feed in their territory after these products have been authorized at E.U. level.

“This proposal conflicts with the principles of ‘better regulation’ and transparency which the new European Commission has taken on board,” La Via said. “After we spent so many years getting rid of internal barriers, this proposal could fragment the internal market and lead to a return to border inspections, which we all worked hard to get rid of at the time.”

COCERAL, FEDIOL and FEFAC commend the opposition of the E.U. law and urge for fair market competition.

“ENVI’s (Environment Committee) rejection is a loud and clear step toward avoiding that the commission’s proposal be adopted and is aligned with the opinion of the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) Committee, which likewise advocated for a rejection on grounds that the proposal stands to distort competition in the internal market and endanger E.U. food production sectors that rely heavily on imports of GM feed,” COCERAL, FEDIOL and FEFAC said in a press release on Oct. 13.

The recommendation will be put to a vote by parliament as a whole at the Oct. 26-29 plenary session in Strasbourg, France.

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