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New Directive allowing ban on GMO cultivation approved by Council of the EU

A new directive granting Member States the right to ban a GMO or a group of GMOs has been approved on 2nd of March in the Competitiveness Council meeting after being approved by the EU Parliament earlier in January 2015. After Wednesday’s (11th March) signing in Strasbourg the directive will be published in the EU's Official Journal on Friday and enter into force 20 days later.

Previously, national bans did not have sufficient legal weight meaning that countries enacting them could easily be taken to court by companies.

Because Member States will have the power to enact national bans, the EU Commission is expected to increase the number of GMOs authorized for cultivation in Europe. As a consequence, the risk of GMO contamination increases for both the conventional and organic farming sector, especially in countries that are traditionally supportive of GM cultivation. Moreover, the costs of GMO contamination will be borne by the organic and GM-free sector, as effective liability regimes are not mandatory.

"The new rules will give member states the freedom of choice: they can decide whether they want genetically modified crops to be cultivated on their territory or not. This is in line with the subsidiarity principle and respects citizens' and farmers' preferences", said Jānis Dūklavs, the Latvian minister for agriculture and President of the Council.

The new rules also provide that member states in which GMOs are cultivated must take care to avoid cross-border contamination into neighboring member states in which these GMOs are banned. This does not apply if particular geographical conditions make these measures unnecessary.

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Issue 40