BERLIN, April 11 (Reuters) - Germany’s federal states, who oppose the cultivation of crops with genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), voted on Friday to urge the national government to seek an opt-out clause for individual European Union states.
Currently the EU has the power to approve GMO crops for Europe-wide cultivation, but is moving towards an opt-out policy that would allow individual countries to ban GM crops.
Germany’s national government has blocked this up to now, alongside Britain, France and Belgium, because of internal divisions over GM policy.
In a separate vote in February, 19 of 28 EU countries voted against granting approval for the cultivation of a GMO maize variety, Pioneer 1507, developed by DuPont and Dow Chemical.
But under the bloc’s weighted voting system that was not enough to reject the crop, leaving the way open for the EU Commission to clear it.
Germany abstained from that vote.
The issue of GMO crops has divided Germany’s right-left coalition, between Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD).
Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) favour GMOs, but the southern conservative party the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the SPD oppose biotechnology crops.
Although widely grown in the Americas and Asia, GM crops are generally unpopular in Europe, where public opposition is strong and environmentalists have raised concerns about the impact on biodiversity. (Reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann; writing by Alexandra Hudson; editing by Jason Neely)