European Union member states may soon be allowed to ban cultivation of genetically modified crops on their soil even if these crops have already been given approval to be grown in the EU. The European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, is expected to vote on the matter on 13 January, with the outcome being rubber-stamped later in the month by environment ministers within the Council of the EU.
If voted through as anticipated, the amendments to a 2001 directive are likely to come into force by June next year. They will mean that countries that want to ban GM crops are no longer obliged to provide scientific evidence to the European Food Safety Authority that the crops will damage the environment or human health. Instead, countries will be able to exclude GM crops for somewhat arbitrary reasons, for example, over fears that material from GM crops will adulterate organic produce and make it unsaleable, or simply that the presence of GM crops may provoke demonstrations that disrupt public order.