GM maize MON810©Sioa Press/Rex Shutterstock

The Welsh government is seeking to ban the cultivation of GM crops to protect organic farming in Wales.

Rebecca Evans, Wales’ deputy minister for farming and food, announced she would take advantage of new EU rules that allow member states to opt out of growing EU-authorised GM crops.

The minister said she would request that the EU excludes farmers in Wales from being allowed to grow Monsanto’s EU-approved GM maize variety MON 810 – currently grown in Spain and Portugal – and seven other GM maize varieties awaiting authorisation.

See also: Scotland to ban farmers from growing GM crops

It means Wales will join an estimated two-thirds of EU member states, by opting out of growing GMs.

Ms Evans said Wales would adopt a “cautionary approach” to control the future cultivation of GM crops in Wales.

“It will allow us to protect the significant investment we have made in our organic sector and safeguard the agricultural land in Wales that is managed under voluntary agri-environment schemes,” she added.

The European Commission set a deadline of 2 October for member states to apply to use its opt-out clause for GM crop cultivation.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have requested bans, but England is the only country in the British Isles that decided not to take up this option.

Ms Evans said: “These crops have not been developed for Welsh growing conditions and would be of no real benefit to Welsh farmers at this time.

“I will of course keep this position under review and am keeping an open mind on future GM developments and more advanced genetic techniques.”

Friends of the Earth Cymru welcomed the Welsh government’s move. It said: “GM is bad for the environment, has done nothing to tackle world hunger, and may well be bad for our health.”

Other member states that have asked to opt out of growing GM crops include: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands and Poland.

Meanwhile, Denmark, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovenia also made last-minute requests to be included in the ban.