France on Monday proposed scrapping the EU’s present system for authorising genetically modified crops for tougher standards which take into account a wide range of environmental and safety factors.A European Commission spokeswoman said that no member state spoke against the French proposals, while French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said about six of them spoke in favour, including Spain, Italy and Poland.
“A taboo subject has been opened up,” he told a press conference following a meeting with fellow EU environment ministers in Brussels.
Under the French proposals, which Borloo said also had German support, a multi-discipline and independent assessment would be used to consider proposals for authorising GMOs, the subject of strong debate in France and elsewhere.
At the moment, European Food Safety Agency gives a scientific opinion about GMOs under consideration for coming on the market before it goes to member states to decide whether to allow the new product.
However, because member states are usually split on authorising GMOs, the decision reverts to the European Commission, which in turn usually follows EFSA’s opinion.
Under the French plan food safety concerns would be considered alongside issues such as the farming economy, soil deterioration and effects on other crops.
“To change the expertise does not mean a ban on GMOs,” the French minister assured.
“GMOs merit a proper procedure and a real protocol to be placed on the market,” he added.
France has banned the growing of a GMO maize variety produced by the US group Monsanto, the only genetically modified crop grown within the EU, mainly in Spain.