National governments should have greater powers to refuse permission for genetically modified (GM) crops to be grown on their territory when faced with uncertain science, a leading MEP will say next week.
This is what Corinne Lepage, a French Liberal MEP, will urge in a report she will present to the Parliament’s environment committee on Monday (28 February). In her draft position for the Parliament on the EU’s approval system, Lepage calls for greater national autonomy to reject GM crops in the case of uncertainties over their consequences for the environment. Conditions vary so widely across the Europe that no single EU-wide assessment can capture all the risks, she argues.
The European Commission shares her ambition to allow more freedom to governments to ban GM crops in the hope of breaking the longstanding stalemate over approvals at EU level.
The Commission insists that health and environmental grounds cannot be invoked, since this could breach single-market rules. Instead, the Commission’s list of suggested grounds include public unrest or religious, philosophical and ethical upset. Lepage doubts whether public order and morality would provide national governments with sufficient legal protection against challenge in an international court.
This will be the first time that MEPs on the environment committee formally debate the draft directive, which they are scheduled to vote on in April. The Parliament faces another GM-related decision after national experts decided on Tuesday (22 February) that it was acceptable for imported animal feed to contain up to 0.1% of GM material.
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