EU halts GM opting-out option

BRUSSELS, Belgium (Reuters) — European lawmakers rejected a proposal that would have allowed countries to restrict or ban the use of imported genetically modified crops that have secured EU approval.

The European Parliament’s environment committee rejected the draft law 47 votes to three, many arguing that the proposal was unworkable and would lead to the reintroduction of border controls.

The bill was designed to mirror legislation that allows member countries to opt out of using GM crops that have been approved for cultivation in the European Union.

A majority of EU member states this month requested opt-outs for a Monsanto GM corn variety, the only GM crop approved for cultivation in the EU.

By contrast, more than 60 GM crops are approved for import into the bloc. Such approvals cover consumption by both humans and animals, but in practice they are all used as animal feed, most being grades of corn and soybeans.

“A clear majority in the committee does not want to jeopardize the internal market,” said environment Committee chair Giovanni La Via.

“For us, the existing legislation should remain in place and member states should shoulder their responsibilities and take a decision together.”

EuropaBio, a lobby group that represents the GM industry, welcomed the vote and urged the European Commission to withdraw the planned legislation.

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