What Would The EU Do
The European Union is discussing legislation that would allow individual EU countries to decide whether or not to allow GM crops.
The EU says that the new policy gives the member states better legal defense against GM crop companies and will help the countries ban foods because of their environmental and health hazards while protecting food companies from discrimination.
Divided Over GMOs
This legislation seeks to address tension within the EU over biotechnology. Some countries like Austria, Germany, Ireland, and Hungary aggressively ban GM seeds, but other countries like Italy and Spain are more open to GM products.
Countries against GM crops worry that if other EU countries began accepting GM seeds, non-GM crops will be in danger of cross-pollination with GM crops. Additionally, opponents say the proposal does not protect the agriculture industry, will cause internal divide in the EU, has vague guidelines, and will make trade barriers between the countries.
What's Food Safety Got To Do With It?
Researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium argue that the EU's higher GM regulation started with the mad cow, foot-and-mouth, and dioxin food scares of the late 1990s. As countries adopted policies about GMs during this time, public concern about food safety crises prompted stricter regulation of GM crops.
Eurobarometer reports that while 58 percent of the public is still against GM food, consumer optimism about food safety has increased from 24 percent in 1999 to 77 percent in 2010.
Currently, only two GM crops are allowed in the EU: Monsanto's MON810 corn and BASF's Amflora industrial potatoes. In fact, the EU currently regulates 60-70 percent of GM crops.
According to the University of Leuven's study, two countries have completely banned GM crops: Zimbabwe and Zambia.
- Brussels Expands Grounds for Potential GM Crop Bans (International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development)
- Policy Gridlock or Future Change? The Political Economy Dynamics of EU Biotechnology Regulation (The Journal of Agrobiotechnology Management and Economics)
- Britain adds voice to criticism of EU crop plans (Reuters)