National governments in the EU are to be given greater flexibility over the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops following a vote in the European Parliament today, which was passed with 480 in favour and 159 against.
Gaining approval for the cultivation of GM crops in the EU is currently extremely difficult as it requires a vote of approval by a majority of EU member states, many of whom are opposed to the technology.
Under the new law, set to come into force this spring, national governments will be able to permit the cultivation of GM crops on their territory as long as they have been approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Governments will also be free to ban or restrict the growing of GM crops for a wide range of reasons including environmental and socio-economic grounds. Currently only one GM maize -MON 810- is commercially cultivated in the EU.
Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder commented:
"We are keeping strict safeguards in place, but the decision on whether or not to grow approved genetically modified crops is being returned to national governments.
"This will give us a stronger legal framework in which countries, farmers and scientists can work.
"Our job now is to monitor how effective this framework is."