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19 of the 28 countries member of the European Union (EU) submitted all necessary documents to ban GM crops in their countries, in line with the new directive of the regional bloc.
This was reported on October 4 by European Commission spokesperson, Enrico Brivio. The deadline for the 28 countries of the EU to ban GM crops already authorized by the bloc or in the process of being authorized was October 3.
According to an article by German outlet Deutsch Welle, in the past, EU countries could only block GMOs if there was scientific evidence of their health or environmental risks. But the new regulation allows countries to ban GMOs approved by the EU for wider reasons, including political considerations.
The countries that do not want genetically modified organisms in their territories are Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia. Nevertheless, Germany wants to allow the cultivation of GMOs only with research purposes.
To this list we have to add Belgium and the UK, which demanded that the blocking of GMOs only applies to parts of their territories, such as the Wallonia region in the case of Belgium and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the case of Britain.
According to Deutsche Welle, the companies that work with GM crops have a - month deadline to issue an opinion about national applications. Nevertheless, the governments have the final word.
The only GM crop authorized to be grown in the EU so far is maize MON 810 of US Monsanto, grown in Spain, Portugal and to a lesser extent in the Czech Republic.
The companies that develop genetically modified organisms have suffered many setbacks in Europe. In January, 2012, German corporation BASF announced that it would abandon the development and trade of GMOs in this continent as a consequence of the resistance against these crops in several countries of the region. The company decided to focus its efforts on other markets: North America, South America and Asia.
A BASF Board Representative in charge of genetically modified organisms, Stefan Marcinowski, recognized then that “there is still a lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe — from the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians”. “Therefore, it does not make business sense to continue investing in products exclusively for cultivation in this market”, he added, according to AFP agency.
Also in 2012, a report by La Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth International and Combat Monsanto stated that the resistance against Monsanto and GMOs was increasing. The three networks then claimed that the total surface planted with GM crops covered only 3 per cent of global farming lands, contrary to the encouraging picture painted by the biotechnology industry. They explained that GM plantations were limited to a few countries: 90% in the US, Brazil, Argentina, India and Canada.
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