Controversial EU law

GM crops to remain forbidden in Luxembourg

Monsanto MON810 maize is the only GMO currently cultivated in the EU
Monsanto MON810 maize is the only GMO currently cultivated in the EU
Photo: Shutterstock

(CS/AFP) Cultivating GM crops will remain forbidden in Luxembourg, despite EU lawmakers clearing the way for member states to decide for themselves whether they want to grow genetically modified foods.

The vote at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday came after years of dispute, with member states split over the use of GMOs.

The compromise decision passed by 480 MEPs allows member states to ban GMOs on environmental policy considerations, even if the crop has already been cleared on health and safety ground at EU level.

Governments can also cite other reasons such as town and country planning, land use, agricultural policy, public policy, or possible socio-economic impacts as reasons to refuse permission. This clause in particular was welcomed by Luxembourg's government, saying it gave a wider scope to the ground of refusal.

Luxembourg MEPs split

Luxembourg Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg had previously criticised the proposal, saying countries should not have to justify why they do not want to introduce GM crops. She also advocated a joint EU approach, rather than a patchwork of regulations in different member states.

The Green politician said last year that the agreement facilitates procedures for GM crop distributors and voiced fears that the voice of anti-GMO countries in the EU would be weakened by the new law. Additionally, she said that because of its geographic locations, Luxembourg might not be safe from GMO pollen.

Following the vote, the ministry welcomed additional provisions to prevent cross-border GMO contamination, by installing buffer zones in border regions.

In June 2014, Dieschbourg abstained from a vote on the bill at the EU Environment Council. Luxembourg MEPs on Tuesday were split on the issue, with Claude Turmes (Greens) and socialist Mady Delvaux-Stehres abstaining, while Georges Bach, Frank Engel and Viviane Reding (CSV/EPP), as well as Charles Goerens (DP/ALDE) voted in favour.

Monsanto maize

Supporters of GMO products meanwhile had argued that individual member states should not be allowed to refuse the crops if EU health authorities approved them.

Currently, only Monsanto's MON810 maize is grown in some member states. Two other corn types and BASF's Amflora potato, while approved by the EU, have been abandoned.

In 2013, US biotech giant Monsanto said it would no longer seek clearance for new GMO products in the EU.