Widely grown in other parts of the world, Europe is still unsure about genetically modified crops.
Only one GM crop is currently grown in the region but 58 are approved for use.
The European Commission has now put forward a new law that would allow individual member states to restrict the import of GM foods, even after they’ve been approved by the EU as a whole.
The ruling mirrors the law on the cultivation of GM crops inside the EU, which also gives countries the right to opt out.
In both cases, states have to justify their decision if they choose to exercise the right to block GM organisms approved for cultivation or import.
Critics say the ruling undermines the principle of a single European market and risks upsetting trade partners such as the US, which wants the EU to open its doors fully to American GM crops as part of a planned EU-US trade deal.
Environmentalists, meanwhile, say the law doesn’t provide enough legal cover for countries that want to restrict GM imports.