Food Law News - EU - 2010

Council Press Release, 20 December 2010

GMOs - Cultivation of genetically modified organisms: Council discussions

The following is an extract from the minutes of the Environment Council meeting held on the 20th December 2010.

The Council took note of a report from the presidency on work concerning proposals to allow member states to restrict the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their territory, see doc 17443/10.

The Council is willing to keep discussing the Commission's proposal. However, a large majority of delegations considers that two conditions must be fulfilled before work can continue in a fruitful way: The Council expects the Commission to provide a list of possible grounds on which member states could base their decision to restrict GMO cultivation. In addition, the Council insists on full implementation of the 2008 Council conclusions on GMOs.

The 2008 conclusions (16882/08) called for strengthening the environmental risk assessment in the GMO authorisation process. They also demanded a Commission report by June 2010 on the socioeconomic benefits and risks of placing GMOs on the market. Moreover, they invited the Commission to adopt labelling thresholds for the adventitious presence of authorised GMOs in conventional seeds.

Presented in July, the draft act (12371/10 + ADD1) would allow member states to restrict GMO cultivation in their territory on grounds other than health and environment considerations, which are already addressed during the EU authorisation process for GMOs. Such national measures would have to be in compliance with the EU Treaty, i.e. not distort trade within the internal market, and comply with WTO obligations. At the October Environment Council, many delegations were concerned about such compatibility.

The Commission and the other member states would have to be informed about restrictions one month prior to their adoption. The authorisation of GMO food, feed and seeds for sale within the EU would not be affected and remains a decision taken at EU level.

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