Food Law News - EU - 2010

Council Minutes, 27 September 2010

GMOs - Communication from the Commission on the freedom for Member States to decide on the cultivation of genetically modified crops

The following is an extract from the Minutes of the Agriculture Council meeting on the 27 September 2010.

The Council held an exchange of views on the Communication on the freedom for Member States to decide on the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) (13511/10). The delegation expressed themselves on the basis of the following questions:

Some of the delegations welcomed the proposal as an attempt to solve the current situation while some others expressed strong reservations. However, most of delegations, expressed their concerns on the two issues raised in the questions from the Presidency and wait for an opinion from the Council legal service on the issue of the compatibility of the proposal with World Trade Organisation (WTO). Many Member States would like the conclusions from the December 2008 Council being taken into account, in particular, the review of the evaluation procedure of GMOs.

An exchange of views will also take place at the next Environment Council on 14 October 2010. The further legislative work will be dealt with within the Environment Council. The ad hoc working party on GMOs will continue to evaluate further the Commission proposal.

On 13 July 2010, following a request made by Hungary and supported by 11 other Member States, the Commission proposed this new GMO package.

The package presented by the Commission comprises a communication, a new recommendation on the co-existence of genetically modified crops with conventional and organic farming and a legislative proposal amending Directive 2001/18/EC. The new recommendation on co-existence allows Member States greater flexibility in the development of national co-existence measures and allows them to define GM-free areas. Directive 2001/18/EC would be amended to include an article allowing Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation in all or part of their territory of GMOs authorised at European level. This restriction should be based on grounds other than those related to the adverse effect on health and environment, in order to keep the value of the scientific evaluation made at the European level by the European Food Safety Authority and stay compatible with the WTO rules.

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