The agreement facilitates the approval of genetically modified crops in
While the agreement was welcomed by both member states who want to ban GM crops and others who favour their authorisation, environmentalists have expressed concern on the approved text, fearing that this will make the authorisation of GMOs in the European Market easier and could expose countries who ban GMOs in their territories to legal challenges from companies like US biotech giant
During last week's environment ministerial meeting in Luxembourg, Minister
But the Maltese government is looking forward to further developments on the issue when the new directive is discussed in the European Parliament, hoping that this will also result in more fine tuning of the legal text agreed upon.
Greens shoot down agreement
The European Greens's food safety spokesperson,
"However, there are major legal uncertainties. There are clear concerns that the opt-outs would not be legally sound and would be subject to legal challenges, leaving member states or regions isolated to defend their stance."
The Greens also referred to the danger of cross-contamination of crops and the risks of these crops spreading across borders, thus making national bans ineffective.
Of particular concern is a clause, which obliges countries that ban GMO crops in their territories to justify the ban to the company involved.
Subsequently countries may still overrule a company's objections according to a set of wide ranging criteria, which include socioeconomic concerns, land use and town planning, agricultural policy objectives and public policy issues.
Borg expressed satisfaction that the Council has ended the deadlock on GMO cultivation with a political agreement.
"It offers a new judicial basis allowing member states to restrict or ban GMOs within their borders. Today's political agreement answers member states' demands since 2009 for greater flexibility and more judicial security for their decisions," he claimed.
The agreement was also shot down by multinational giant
However, the government considers the current compromise text as "a well balanced text that moves in the right direction."
This is because
The agreement is also deemed to bring about real benefits both for those who want to cultivate and for those who do not want to cultivate GMOs within their territory.
Minister Brincat noted that this text constitutes the finalisation of the first reading of this file by Council following which the incoming Presidency would be able to engage in the second reading agreement procedure on this file with the newly elected European parliament.
According to Brincat the current text sets out the right balance by safeguarding the European food safety authority (EFSA)'s assessment for cultivation authorisations while giving the right to member states that wish to do so to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs in all or part of their territory "on the basis of specific circumstances" which are not accounted for by the EU level EFSA assessments.
Brincat expressed satisfaction that member states have broken the deadlock on the GMO cultivation proposal and reached a political agreement that moves towards a new legal basis giving member states the choice to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs on their territory or part of it.
"Nevertheless what we agreed upon was a political agreement on a new draft GMO cultivation legislation directive that will still need to be followed by the formal adoption by Council of its first reading".
In view of this
"Our intention always was that a solution would not and should not compromise our concerns on the issue – now or in future," Brincat told MaltaToday.
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