Written Q&A to EU Commission – Self-determination for MS regarding GMOs cultivation

Very interesting answer by Mr. Borg, which clearly stressed how Greek Presidency presented a new compromise proposal about that topic.

Question for written answer to the Commission (13 February 2014)
Erik Bánki (PPE)

Subject:  GMO Package ensuring self-determination for Member States regarding

commercial cultivation of GMOs

The Commission will be aware that the Fundamental Law of Hungary states that the country does not wish to cultivate genetically-modified crops or produce foodstuffs containing such organisms on its territory.

Pursuant to the EU’s GMO regulations currently in force, if a permit to cultivate a GM crop is obtained in the Union, a Member State may only introduce a ban by means of a safeguard clause, which cannot be obtained with any certainty. Although the GMO Package presented by the Commission on 14 July 2010 would bring about considerable positive changes in the area of applying safeguard clauses, discussion of the proposal ground to a halt because of objections raised by a few Member States.

1. Does the Commission believe that any progress will be made in the Council with regard to the GMO Package enabling the self-determination of Member States in the area of the commercial cultivation of GMOs before the EP elections?

2. What action will Hungary be able to take if a new GM crop, the cultivation of which it wants to ban on its territory in accordance with its Fundamental Law, is granted an EU cultivation permit before the regulation is adopted?

Answer given by Mr. Borg on behalf of the Commission (14 March 2014)

The Commission is aware that cultivation of GM crops is a source of concerns in some Member States. This is why the Commission made in July 2010(1) a proposal to allow Member States to restrict or ban the cultivation of GMOs on their territory for other grounds than risks to health and the environment. The European Parliament adopted a first reading position on this proposal in July 2011. Unfortunately despite huge efforts in 2012, a blocking minority prevented the adoption of a Council position, and the discussions remained blocked until very recently. However during the discussions in the Council on 11 February 2014 related to maize 1507(2), many Member States asked to resume the discussions. As a result, the Greek Presidency presented a new compromise proposal which was considered as a good basis to resume the discussions by most of the Ministers in the Environmental Council on the 3 March 2014, with the hope of reaching a political agreement under the Greek Presidency.

Under existing legislation, Member States may use the provisions of the safeguard clause on a given GMO, if they provide enough evidence of a risk to health and to the environment (Article 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC(3) and Article 34 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003(4)) and for duly justified coexistence reasons. The Commission proposal, if adopted, would allow extending that possibility to other legitimate considerations, such as socioeconomic concerns, town and country planning, land use, general environmental policy objective different to risks. The proposal needs to be adopted in order to allow for such legitimate considerations to be taken into account.

(1) http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/gmo/legislation/docs/proposal_en.pdf
(2) http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2013:0758:FIN:EN:PDF
(3) OJ L 106, 17.4.2001, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 268, 18.10.2003 p. 1.

© European Union, 2014 – Source: European Parliament

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