New EU Legislation Will Let European Union Member States Ban a Gene-Engineered Crop

Written by: Neal Fortin

Primary Source: Food Law Blog

It violates the spirit of the World Trade Organization agreements.

It turns its back on the single-market principle of the European Community.

It upends the status of science as the neutral arbiter.

Nonetheless, I am optimistic about the new legislation in the European Union that will give member states the power to ban gene-engineered crops (GMOs) for various social and policy reasons. The legislation was approved by the European Parliament is expected to be approved by the European Council.

Up to now, GMOs are banned only for health and safety concerns. Under the future rules even after the European Food Safety Authority has found a GMO safe, members states may ban the GMO in their territory, “based on a wide range of reasons such as: environmental or agricultural policy objectives, town and country planning, land use, socio-economic impacts, avoidance of GMO presence in other products, or public policy, to name a few.”

I am optimistic this law will help clean up a polluted scientific communication environment. No longer will it be necessary to distort the facts and magnify the risks to justify a ban.

Perhaps we are already seeing some refreshing honesty as a result. The Scottish government has recently asserted its opposition to planting of GMOs. The reasons:
1. “[T]here is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers.”
2. “To grow GM crops in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand.”

You have to respect that. No disingenuous framing. No wildly implausible theories. Just preference and protection of marketing.

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Neal Fortin
Neal Fortin teaches Food Regulation in the United States, International Food Law, Codex Alimentarius, Food & Drug Law, and Nutrition Law & Policy. Before coming to MSU, he was an attorney concentrating in food and drug law. Previously, Neal Fortin worked for the Michigan Department of Agriculture. He was the primary drafter of the Michigan Food Law of 2000, which streamlined Michigan’s food safety requirements and strengthened the food safety standards for changes in science.
Neal Fortin

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