EurActiv.com Correspondent's Choice

This story about GM crops was published by EurActiv on 28th September 2010.

The European Commission’s plans to hand over to member states the power to ban or authorise genetically modified (GM) crops were strongly criticised by key EU governments at an Agriculture Council yesterday (27 September).

All the EU’s heavyweights opposed proposals put forward in July by EU Health Commissioner John Dalli, aimed at ending more than a decade of deadlock on the GM crop cultivation in the EU.

Brussels’ plan was criticised both by traditionally anti-GMO countries such as France and Italy and member states that have long been pro-GMO, such as Spain. Germany, the UK and Poland also opposed the proposal.

“It is not in one or two months that we can reach a compromise. The issue will be subject to long negotiations,” acknowledged acting Belgian Agriculture Minister and current president of the EU Agriculture Council Sabine Laruelle.

Member states fear that the proposal may lead to the fragmentation of the internal market for agriculture goods. The Commission’s proposal is also deemed incompatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

“The proposal does not undermine the internal market and it is not against WTO rules. It is the present situation which creates problems with the WTO,” said Commissioner Dalli, responding to critics during a press conference in Brussels.

However, the Commission’s plan is at risk of being withdrawn or radically modified. As a transitional measure, ministers agreed to establish a working group aimed at addressing the issues raised by critics of the proposals.

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