EU GM vote strengthens hand of member states

 (2011 04 14)

EU governments will be able to restrict or ban GMO crops on a case-by-case basis under measures approved by the European Parliament’s all-party environment committee yesterday, (Tuesday, April 12).  

But the Euro MPs rejected proposals to set up EU-wide minimum buffer zones around plots in which GMO farming is permitted.

In a vote on GMO agriculture, the Socialists and Democrats group defended the need to preserve biodiversity and respect different types of farming.

S and D spokeswoman on environment and health issues Linda McAvan said: “The existing law does not deal with the issue adequately. There is a legal vacuum.

“Under the terms of this vote, member states will be obliged to prevent contamination of GMO-free crops and other products on their territory and in the border areas of neighbouring member states.”

S and D author of a parliamentary report on the issue, Justas Paleckis, said the group’s main concern was ‘safety and transparency.’

“Appropriate labelling will allow citizens to choose if they want to buy GMOs or traditional agricultural products.

“The vote gives EU farmers and consumers greater certainty and a stronger legal framework. “

The environment committee stressed the need for more scientific studies on the long-term health and environment effects of GMOs.

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has cautiously welcomed the vote.

He said: “The SNP’s position on GM is sensible and workable. While we are open to examining the possibilities, and have no problem with lab trials, we are yet to be convinced by the case for it.

“At present there remain too many unknowns in terms of the risks it poses; consumers have made it clear that they do not want GM products in their fields or on their shelves; and the seed multinationals have grossly oversold the potential of GM: they have had most of the rest of the world outside Europe to play with, and have come up with very little.”

The European Parliament plenary is due to vote on the proposals in June.

Olivia Midgley, 13 April 2011,