Why are other countries so far ahead of the US when it comes to GMOs?
Germany is moving to ban the growing of genetically modified crops just weeks after Scotland made a similar announcement. Germany initiated the move to stop the growing of genetically modified crops under new European Union rules.
German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt has informed German state governments of his intention to tell the EU that Germany will make use of new “opt-out” rules to stop GMO crop cultivation even if varieties have been approved by the EU, a letter from the agriculture ministry showed.
A new EU law approved in March cleared the way for new GMO crops to be approved after years of previous deadlock. But the law also gave individual countries the right to opt out by banning GMO crops even after they have been approved as safe by the European Commission.
Widely-grown in the Americas and Asia, GMO crops have divided opinion in Europe. Britain is among those in favor of them, while France and Germany are among those opposed.
Previously, when the EU approved crops as safe to produce they had to be permitted for cultivation in all EU states.
In the letter, the ministry stressed that Schmidt is continuing a previously-announced policy to keep a ban on GMOs in Germany.
“The German government is clear in that it seeks a nationwide cultivation ban,” ministry spokesman Christian Fronczak told Bloomberg. “There’s resistance from all sides, from the public to the farmers.”
Scotland became the first country in the EU to choose the opt out clause, in a move to preserve its “clean and green brand.”
The news from Germany was welcomed by the Scottish National Party (SNP). “Like Scotland, the German Government recognizes the importance of protecting its food and drink sector and keeping its environment clean and green,” said SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) Rob Gibson in a statement.
Lisa Archer, food and technology director at environmental nonprofit Friends of the Earth, also applauded the move.
“Germany has committed a true act of food democracy by listening to the majority of its citizens that oppose GMO cultivation and support more sustainable, resilient organic food production that doesn’t perpetuate the overuse of toxic herbicides,” she told Common Dreams. “We are hopeful that more members of the EU will follow suit and that the U.S. Congress will protect our basic right to know what we are feeding our families by requiring mandatory GMO labeling.”