STRASBURG, FRANCE — The European Parliament on Oct. 28 rejected a draft E.U. law that would enable any E.U. member state to restrict or prohibit the sale and use of E.U.-approved genetically modified organism (GMO) food or feed on its territory.

The members called on the European Commission to table a new proposal and expressed concern that the law might prove unworkable or that it could lead to the reintroduction of border checks between pro- and anti-GMO countries.

“Today’s vote gave a clear signal to the European Commission. This proposal could turn on its head what has been achieved with the single market and the customs union,” said rapporteur Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT), whose recommendation to reject the proposal was approved by 577 votes to 75, with 38 abstentions. “Over the last few months, serious concerns have been expressed about the lack of any impact assessment, the proposal’s compatibility with the single market, and also whether it is actually feasible. There was no evaluation of the potential consequences or of other available options. I believe that this proposal could have negative consequences for agriculture in the E.U., which is heavily dependent on protein supplies from GMO sources. It could also have indirect negative effects on imports. Finally, there are concerns over whether this proposal could even be implemented, because there are no border controls in the E.U.”

COCERAL, FEDIOL and FEFAC, representing commodity collection and trade, oilseed crushing and compound feed and premix manufacturing, said on Oct. 28 they are relieved by the decision of the Plenary of the European Parliament to reject the commission’s proposal. COCERAL, FEDIOL and FEFAC now urge the E.U. Farm Council to follow suit and equally reject the commission’s proposal in order to maintain the needed legal certainty for business operators in the E.U. feed and livestock sectors, which are already facing a very challenging market situation.

The rejection is in line with the opinion of the relevant parliamentary committees and echoes the concerns voiced by affected food and feed supply chain industry sectors, the groups said. COCERAL, FEDIOL and FEFAC recently issued an economic impact assessment on the commission’s proposal, finding that substituting GM soy with non-GM soy would lead to an increase in feed costs of around 10% for the livestock sector (i.e. €1.2 billion if four E.U. countries opted-out or € 2.8 billion in the event that all E.U. countries did so), making livestock production in “opting-out” countries uncompetitive vis-à-vis not only non “opting-out” countries but also third countries, whether on the home or global market.

The proposal, which would amend existing E.U. legislation to enable member states to restrict or prohibit the use of E.U.-approved genetically modified food and feed on their territory, was tabled by the E.U. Commission April 22.

The Commission suggested that this proposal should be modelled on another E.U. law, on GMO’s intended for cultivation, which entered into force in early April 2015. This allows member states to ban the cultivation of E.U.-approved GMOs on their territory.

But whereas cultivation necessarily takes place on a member state’s territory, GMO trade crosses borders, which means that a national “sales and use” ban could be difficult or impossible to enforce without reintroducing border checks on imports.

European Commissioner for Health and Food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis has said that the European Commission will not withdraw the legislative proposal, which will be discussed by E.U. ministers.