Friday, October 09, 2015 by Julie Wilson
Members of the European Union continue to take a stand against genetically modified (GM) agriculture, creating a domino effect as dozens of countries ban GM crops due to their health and environmental effects – and the general distaste among Europeans toward GMOs.
Poland is the latest country to utilize an “opt-out” clause that was recently passed by the EU allowing individual member countries to withdraw from GMO cultivation, forbidding the planting of Monsanto’s GM corn, also known as MON810.
To date, 19 out of 28 European Union countries have said “no” to growing GM crops in either all or parts of their territories, a move that’s not exactly surprising considering there’s long been a ban on growing GM crops in most of the member countries that are opting out.
Rather, the move proves that EU countries are not backing down on their disapproval of GM crops.
“Only one GM crop has ever been approved and grown in Europe – a type of maize with in-built resistance to a weevil called the European corn borer – but the only farmers to grow it are primarily in Spain where the weevils are a problem,” reported New Scientist.
Member countries that opted out of growing GM crops have additional leverage over the approval process of the controversial crops in that they can “delay Euro-wide approval of it for years by voting against approving it.”
Newly approved GMOs cannot be cultivated without a majority vote, which means that they remain in “legal limbo until the European Commission approves it by default”; however, the commission has been reluctant to do so in the past.
The biotechnology industry, which originally said they were unaffected by the bans, are now calling the member countries that opted out “anti-technology” – highlighting their frustration over the loss of financial gains in these regions.
So far, the following countries have opted out:
2. Belgium for the Wallonia region
3. United Kingdom (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)
17. The Netherlands
An earlier report by GMO.news explains the opt-out process more thoroughly, as well as theorizes on the potential effects on the EU market:
In March of 2015, the right for EU countries to opt out of GMO crops was agreed upon, and came into effect in April – as a means of compromise between pro and anti-GMO countries. The agreement allows countries to decide not to cultivate GM crops in order to protect the environment, health, consumer interests or internal markets.
A parallel proposal, agreed upon in April, also allows EU countries to decide whether or not they will allow GMO crops to be imported to their country.
Can the EU’s single market survive the split? Cross-border trade of crops, seeds and animals is a high-volume market. Border controls are nonexistent under the single-market umbrella, so it is hard to see how inevitable tensions between pro and anti GMO countries will be resolved when it comes to the trading market.