Devolving European power to national governments to decide policy on genetically modified organisms, GMOs… This could prove more difficult than expected for the EU’s Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli.
EU farm ministers have been discussing a proposal from him, raising questions about the implications for the single market. In Brussels, Dalli said: “I will sum up in one word: Enfin! At last! The discussions have started.”
For years, whenever authorisation of GMOs has come before the EU council of ministers, lack of enough in favour or against has meant the decision defaulted to the Commission. Dalli suggests each state should decide individually.
Italian Minister for Agriculture Giancarlo Galan, however, said: “It would be ridiculous not to have a common position on such an important matter. It would be too easy to sometimes pass laws on the details for some production and then when discussions get bogged down, everyone does as he likes.”
The proposed rule change would let anti-GM states keep them out and let those in favour plant away. But even pro-GM voices are wary of renationalising policy. Green groups are most concerned about GM and non-GM crop co-existence.
Marco Contiero of Greenpeace told Euronews: “The real problem is safety and all the scientific controversy around the safety of GMOs. The Commission should have been keen to ensure that safety is at the centre of their proposals and therefore ensuring that safe crops end up in supermarket shelves.”
Many Europeans feel uncomfortable with the prospect of GMOs. Many others are undecided.