Genetically-modified crops could be banned in Europe to prevent public protests, according to a draft list of rules by the European Commission.
Under plans to give member states the freedom to decide whether to grow GM crops, bans could also be justified to keep public order, as well as on religious or philosophical grounds over concerns about the technology.
The list of rules was drawn up after member states asked the Commission for clearer guidance on what grounds they could ban or agree to growing GMs.
Without proper legal arguments, member states said they were concerned cultivation bans could leave them open to legal challenges from the World Trade Organisation.
While the list has not been finalised, the document says the rules could be invoked by members to restrict or allow the growth of GMs in all or part of a country.
Other possible reasons on the list include safeguarding producer and consumer choice to grow and buy non-GM, planning decisions and preserving traditional farming practices.
The report, which is set to be discussed by EU experts on Friday (11 February), adds that member states must ensure the restrictions are “justified, proportionate and non-discriminatory”.
A Commission spokesman told Reuters the EU executive would wait to gauge the reaction from governments, but there were no plans to amend current GM cultivation proposals to add the rules at this time.
The Commission proposed giving governments the power to decide on bans in July last year, in a bid to break the deadlock in GM crop approvals, which has only seen two varieties approved for cultivation in Europe in 12 years.