EU agriculture committee votes against GM crops flexibility

MEPs on the European Parliament’s agriculture committee in Brussels have voted against plans to allow individual member states to make their own choices on GM crops.

In a vote held in Brussels on Thursday (3 September), the agriculture committee rejected the European Commission’s draft law that would give members states powers to allow or ban GM crops in their territories.

MEPs on the committee said they feared arbitrary national bans could distort competition on the EU’s single market and jeopardise the union’s food production sectors, which are heavily dependent on imports of GM feed.

See also: Scotland to ban farmers from growing GM crops

The committee’s opinion – adopted by 28 votes in favour to eight against, with six abstentions – will now be scrutinised by the environment committee, which has the lead on this file, before the European Parliament as a whole votes on the matter.

“Today’s vote in the agriculture committee sends a clear message: the Commission’s proposal to allow member states to decide whether or not to restrict or ban the use of GM food and feed on their territory must be rejected.

“We have not been building the EU’s single market to let arbitrary political decisions distort it completely,” said the draftsman of the opinion, Albert Dess, a German politician and member of the European Parliament.

“The commission’s approach is completely unrealistic. We have many sectors in the EU that rely to a great extent on imports of GM feed and would not be able to survive if it is banned.

“If we allowed this, then all animal food production in the EU would be at stake, which could make us much more dependent on food imports from third countries that do not necessarily respect our high production standards. And we certainly want to avoid this.”

While the UK government is in favour of allowing farmers in England the flexibility to grow GM crops, Scotland, Germany, France, Italy, Latvia and Greece are among the countries that have said they would enforce a ban on growing GM crops.

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