EU Offers Olive Branch In GM Crop Battle

– AFP, Jul 12, 2010

BRUSSELS – Europe’s long battle over genetically-modified crops will take a new turn tomorrow when the European Commission offers a truce with governments to break an impasse blocking their development.

The European Union’s executive arm will propose to give individual governments the freedom to ban such products in their countries and ask in exchange that states relax their opposition to new crop applications by biotech firms.

The idea has caused alarm among opponents of biotech foods who fear that the proposals would pave the way for GM crops to sprout across the EU. Opponents speak of “frankenfoods” which will inevitably contaminate other crops and for which there can be no definitive evidence of their safety. Supporters argue that such crops have higher yields, resist pests and disease better.

Under the current system, GM crop applications are examined by a panel of experts of members states and need to pass with a qualified majority. In case of deadlock, the decision goes to EU ministers and if the impasse persists, the European Commission is left with the final decision.

While GM crops are thriving in other parts of the world, they represent a tiny slice of the farm business in Europe. France has already taken a hard stance. “We want the conditions for authorisations to be tough. We see a trap in this proposal which consists in calming everybody by letting each one do as they please,” said French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo.…