The final tally of the massive European anti-GMO wave has been reached now that the Oct. 3 deadline to notify the European Commission has passed. A total of 19 EU countries have “opted out” of growing genetically modified (GMOs) crops within all or part of their territories.
These governments have taken the “opt-out” clause of a European Commission rule passed in March that allows its 28-member bloc to abstain from growing GMO crops, even if they are already authorized to be grown within the union.
According to Reuters, the member states specifically targeted the cultivation of Monsanto’s MON 810 maize, the only GMO crop grown in Europe (just in Spain and Portugal), and is currently under review at the European level.
A European Commission spokesman Enrico Brivio confirmed to Reuters that the 19 countries opting out are: Austria, Belgium for the Wallonia region, Britain for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia.
As RT noted, Belgium and the UK are applying the opt-out rule for only part of their their territories, while Germany requested a partial opt-out in order to pursue more GMO research.
Companies have been notified of the members’ requests and have one month to react to the decisions.
Although GMOs are widely grown in many parts of the world, the topic is fraught with contention in Europe. Many of EU countries have strict laws against GMOs out of public health and environmental concerns, and all 28 nations require GMO labeling.
With this latest news, it looks like many European countries want to deal with this contentious issue within their own borders. “As the number of requests from member states shows, national governments are now using this legislation to have a greater say on cultivation on their respective territories,” the EU’s executive arm in Brussels said in a statement on Sunday.
Many environmental groups have applauded the national GMO crop bans. “A clear majority of the EU’s governments are rejecting the Commission’s drive for GMO crop approvals,” Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said in a statement last week.