Brussels, 12 June 2014
Statement by Commissioner Borg following Council's political agreement to allow the prohibition of GMO cultivation
"I am delighted to announce that the Environment Council has just broken the deadlock on the GMO cultivation proposal and has reached a political agreement that moves towards a new legal basis giving Member States the choice to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs on their territory.
Today's political agreement meets Member States' consistent calls since 2009 to have more flexibility and legal certainty for national decisions on cultivation on their territory or part of their territory.
I extend my thanks to the Greek Presidency for finding common ground amongst the different views and concerns. The outcome is a balanced compromise text.
Under this agreement, a two-step procedure is established to restrict or ban the cultivation of authorised GMO's.
Let me outline some key provisions:
First, it offers extended and legally sound possibilities for Member States to better take into account their national context when deciding on GMO cultivation. Currently, Member States can only use safeguard clauses to ban cultivation based on risk.
Second, by linking the so-called “step 1” (the pre-authorisation geographical scope restriction) and “step 2” (the post-authorisation opt-out), and setting clear timelines, the text provides necessary predictability for all actors.
Third, if a Member State initiates step 1 - a “restriction of scope” request - the Commission will present this request to facilitate the procedure. If the applicant doesn’t react to the request, it equals agreement.
Fourth, concerning step 2 - the opt-out - the final say on whether to cultivate a GMO still stays with the Member State, who retain the right to opt-out regardless of the applicants’ views.
The agreement also secures a Member States legitimate right to adjust their decision to restrict or ban cultivation during the 10 year GM authorisation period, if new objective circumstances arise.
This proposal is not about the EU-wide risk assessment carried out by the European Food Safety Authority, which will remain as strict as it is today to ensure a high level of protection for human health, animal health and the environment.
4 years after the adoption of the Commission proposal, we are today in a position to adopt a political agreement on a new draft GMO cultivation legislation. This agreement is critical to pave the way for a constructive second reading in the new Parliament. The Commission will continue to offer its active support so that this new tool can hopefully be used from 2015."
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