European approach to GM ‘too simplistic’

The European Commission’s approach towards growing genetically-modified crops in Europe has been criticised for being “too simplistic”.

A draft report by the European Parliament agriculture committee says Commission plans to allow member states more freedom over planting GMs do not give countries enough flexibility to create their own rules for accepting or banning them.

It says member states should have a greater say over GMs than whether they are acceptable on moral and ethical grounds.

It should not just be the responsibility of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to decide if GMs should be banned for health and environmental reasons, it adds.

MEP Corinne Lepage, who wrote the draft, said the diversity of ecosystems across Europe meant member states should be able to carry out their own risk analyses of the suitability of GMs, even if similar tests had been carried out by the EFSA.

The suitability of GMs should also be considered in terms of changes in agricultural practices, GM crops’ effects on soils and their socio-economic effect on farmers, she added.

Referring to a Europe-wide poll, which found 61% of people were “nervous” about GM food, the draft report says the Commission should also adopt new risk-assessment guidelines that identify the possible effects of GMs.

It also calls for European-wide rules to ensure non-GM products are not contaminated with those which have been genetically modified.

The report is due to be voted on by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee in April.

Its publication came as Bulgaria announced it had banned farmers from growing GM maize in a bid to “protect Bulgarian agriculture”.

The variety, MON 810, was approved for cultivation in the EU in 1998 but has since been banned by six countries, including Austria, Hungary and France.

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