Brussels’ Halting GMO Progress

The EU just green-lit ten new genetically modified crops, the first such authorization in two years. Reuters reports:

The European Commission said it had authorised 10 new types of maize, soybeans, cotton and oilseed rape as either human food or animal feed for 10 years. It also extended by 10 years the use of seven other crops already in use…

The approvals will be added to the existing list of 58 GM crops authorised in the European Union. The genetic modifications mainly offer protection against pests or resistance to herbicides. […]

The approvals, the first since November 2013, follow a proposal to change the rules on GM approval, allowing individual countries to restrict or prohibit GM imports even after they have been approved by the bloc as a whole.

It’s encouraging to see the EU getting important GM crops out of regulatory gridlock. Genetically modified crops can yield more on less land in more extreme conditions, and research continues to show them to be safe. They are one of the best solutions we have to the problems climate change is expected to bring.

But it’s been one step forward and two steps backwards for Europe this week, because the EU has also recently issued a proposal to allow individual member states to ban these crops. That would dilute the effect these permissions will ultimately have. The European Commission authorized these new GM crops only after rigorous testing, yet is pushing policies that would allow member states to reject them out of some Luddite bias. What a shame.

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