September 20, 2010 / 8:49 AM / 9 years ago

Factbox: Government responses to EU GM crop plans

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU farm ministers will begin talks on September 27 on draft rules to let national governments decide whether to ban or grow genetically modified (GM) crops, proposed by the European Commission in July.

The proposals include changes to EU GM legislation, which will need the backing of a qualified majority of EU governments and lawmakers under the bloc’s weighted voting system in order to pass.

Ahead of the talks, several EU countries including France and Spain have criticized the plans as an attempt to dismantle the 27-nation bloc’s common policy on GM crops.

Below are reactions to the proposals and comments on the draft plans from EU governments:

FRENCH FARM MINISTER BRUNO LE MAIRE

Sept 16, at a press conference in Paris

* “The Commission must not hand over responsibility for this essential question for European agriculture.”

GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL

July 21, speaking in Berlin

* “We have a European single market. (If individual member states are left to decide whether to accept GMOs) then what will we do with these products?”

* “If we continue like this, the single market has come to an end.”

FRENCH ENVIRONMENT MINISTER JEAN-LOUIS BORLOO

June 11, at a ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg

* “The EU27 decided unanimously in December 2008 to completely review the assessment methods and expertise for authorizations. They agreed that in its current form, the system fails to provide sufficient assurances.”

* “I’m waiting for the European Commission to tell us where we stand now. The prospect that later we could discuss the use of subsidiarity in future authorizations wouldn’t be a problem for me. But there is no way we would swap subsidiarity for the absolute need for a tightening of the assessment criteria.”

* “When the 27 countries talked about it (in 2008), they clearly said that no new authorizations can be approved in the current circumstances. That’s where we stand.”

SPANISH AGRICULTURE MINISTER ELENA ESPINOSA

June 11, at a ministers’ meeting in Luxembourg

* “Moving to authorizations by each country could take us to the beginning of re-nationalization, something we have never supported in Spain.”

* “In Spain we have always defended the idea that it should be a European policy. Let us not forget that agriculture is a common policy. A particular product has no reason not to have a common policy.”

* “We’ve been asking for years for a European directive to deal with the question of coexistence (of GM and non-GM farming). I transmitted this idea to the Commissioner (John Dalli) and we hope that things could move that way.”

BELGIAN EU DIPLOMAT HERMAN CLAEYS

June 9, at a seminar in Brussels:

* “We have some doubts ... with their compliance with the internal market rules, with the World Trade Organization and with some bilateral agreements.”

* “We also perceive that for investment security for companies, for the public services, it’s maybe not the best thing.”

* “It’s not good that the (current) system shows every time that position-taking is too difficult and that member states are so divided, so we are positive that there is an initiative of the Commission going forward.”

* “As a general sign we don’t like the de-harmonization of Europe. That’s not specifically for GMOs, but it’s not in our spirit of Europe.”

Compiled by Reuters news bureaus

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