German federal government, states to decide jointly on GMO crops-draft law

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s federal and state governments will in future decide together whether to ban the cultivation of crops with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that are allowed in the European Union, a draft law showed, ending a long dispute.

An EU law in March 2015 cleared the way for the approval of new GMO crops after years of deadlock. But it also gave individual countries the right to ban GMO crops even after they have been approved as safe by the European Commission.

In Sept. 2015, Germany told the EU it would not permit the cultivation of GMO crops but there has been disagreement whether this ban should be undertaken by federal or state authorities.

Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt had previously wanted the states to implement the ban, but the states thought it should be up to the federal government. Justifying a ban is seen as legally tricky and so could be contestable.

Government sources said all German ministries had agreed on the draft law, seen by Reuters, and it would now be discussed with the states and industry associations before it is likely to go to cabinet in early November.

Reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann; Writing by Michelle Martin. Editing by Jane Merriman