Deceitful compromise clears the way for GMO crops in Europe

An unholy alliance of pro- and anti-GMO countries have struck a deal that will sweep away the obstacles to genetically engineered crops in the EU, writes Lawrence Woodward.

An unholy alliance of pro- and anti-GMO countries have struck a deal that will sweep away the obstacles to genetically engineered crops in the EU.

By allowing – under limited circumstance – individual member states to prohibit the growing of GMO crops on their territory, the European Commission expects to boost GMO cropping in the EU overall.

An indicative vote of Member State representatives taken in a closed meeting this week indicated near unanimous support for the proposal which is being promoted by Greece – the current holders of the EU Presidency.

A formal vote will take place at a meeting of Environment Ministers on the 12th June. If agreed – as seems likely – it will then go to the European Parliament for approval.

The significance of this move is that it breaks the political stalemate that has largely prevented GMO crops from being grown in the EU.

The proposal is based on the deceit that both pro- and anti-GMO countries can have want they want, and the unity of the EU Single Market can remain intact.

These fields of oilseed rape / canola near Avebury, Wiltshire, England, could soon be GMO if the EU deal is approved next week. Photo: *Bettina* via Flickr.

An unholy alliance

Just how bizarre and ludicrous the deal is can be seen by the member state responses;

Pro -GMO Britain hopes it will allow for more rapid approval of GM crops in the EU: “This proposal should help unblock the dysfunctional EU process for approving GM crops for cultivation”, said UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson

Anti-GMO France welcomed the deal as “good news”. It has recently imposed a domestic ban on GMO maize (corn).

Germany – which doesn’t seem to know where it is on the issue these days; whose abstention cleared the way for EU approval; and whose Ministers have been quoted as saying they wanted to break the EU logjam – praised the deal, saying it opened the way for a formal ban in Germany.

“The viewpoint of the people in Europe differs greatly on this matter and this earns respect”, German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt said in a statement.

He has a strange concept of respect. No-one outside of the Brussels bubble has a good word to say about the deal.

Widespread criticism

Environmental campaigners say it gives too much power to corporations.

The EU’s Green Parties say it is a “misleading proposal” which only“pretends to give Member States more freedom to ban GMOs on their territory. With a very weak premise and legal grounds, the proposal may in fact be instrumental allowing numerous new GMO crops for cultivation in the EU.”

The GM industry is also unhappy with the deal. They say it could allow crops to be banned on “non-scientific grounds” and undermines the Single Market.



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