MEPs argue for farmer choice over GMs

Farmers in Europe should be given a choice over whether to grow genetically-modified or conventional crops, European leaders have claimed.

In a vote by the agriculture committee on an opinion for the environment committee, MEPs backed a European Commission proposal to allow national governments to make decisions on GM plantings. But they said farmers and consumers should also have a say on whether to use the technology.

In an opinion drafted by UK MEP George Lyon, ministers voted in favour of allowing member states to prohibit GMs – even if scientific advice backs them – if countries need to preserve certain methods of production.

They can also ban GMs on the basis of maintaining certain products or protecting diversity and natural habitats.

Public concerns over the introduction of GM farming can also be a reason to restrict or forbid GMs production, provided that the decision to do so “is justified and non discriminatory”, the opinion adds.

Committee members said where GM and non-GM crops co-exist measures must be put in place so either type of production is not adversely affected.

They also approved, by a narrow majority (22 votes in favour and 21 against), a request to the European Commission to re-evaluate the seed threshold level for labelling GMO traces in conventional seeds.

Approved on Tuesday (15 March), the opinion for the environment committee will help form the proposed legislation on new regulations to allow member states to restrict or prohibit GM cultivations.

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