EU assembly votes against proposal allowing members to opt out of GMO imports

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The European Union assembly voted against granting EU governments a right to opt out of rules making the EU a single market for gene-altered food and feed. With Europe split over the safety of GMOs, the European Commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, proposed the draft law in April in a bid to give opponents of GMOs fewer grounds to hold up EU approvals urged by supporters of the technology.

The commission proposal was modeled on European legislation approved three months earlier that lets national governments go their own way on the cultivation of GM crops. The EU Parliament’s rejection of the food and feed measure reflects concerns it would have been a step too far in denting a free-trade tenet of the bloc.

“Member states should shoulder their responsibilities and take a decision together at EU level, instead of introducing national bans,” said Giovanni La Via, an Italian who chairs the 751-seat assembly’s environment committee.

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The moment it was unveiled six months ago, the commission proposal drew rebukes from anti- and pro-GMO groups as well as from the U.S. government.

Environmental organization Greenpeace called the initiative “a farce,” saying the opt-out option wouldn’t stand up in court against EU free-market rules. The European Association for Bioindustries, whose members include GMO manufacturers, said the proposal would limit choice for livestock farmers, weaken the EU economy and rattle innovative companies’ confidence in the bloc’s approval procedures.

The U.S. government said the draft legislation would enable EU nations to ignore “science-based safety and environmental determinations,” would fragment the European market and was inconsistent with current trans-Atlantic talks on a free-trade agreement.

Read full, original post: European Parliament Opposes National Bans on GMO-Food Imports

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