EU-wide legislation on the co-existence of Genetically Modified crops is still some way off, according to a European Commission report produced today (10 March).

Limited commercial experience of growing GM crops in the EU and the need to conclude the process of introducing national measures in member states means any EU-wide legislation is not justified at this time, it concluded.

“The development of efficient and cost-effective strategies to ensure co-existence is vital to ensure a practical choice between GM and non-GM produce for farmers and consumers,” said Mariann Fischer Boel, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

“Growing conditions are very varied from country to country and experience with GM crops is still limited in Europe. It therefore does not seem appropriate to propose unified EU rules at this time.”

Segregation measures must be in place to ensure that accidental traces of GMOs in conventional or organic products are kept within the strict ranges defined by EU legislation, she said.

But Friends of the Earth said the report rejected half of the 20 legal proposals on co-existence submitted by member states, claiming they “create obstacles to the free movement of goods” and claims the EC wants them to re-submit with weaker proposals.

The UK is expected to launch a public consultation on co-existence imminently and an in-depth EU discussion on co-existence will take place in Vienna on 5-6 April.

The Commission plans to provide an update on the development and implementation of national co-existence measures in 2008. See http://europa.eu.int/pol/agr/index_en.htm for more information.