EU states near compromise on GM crops

After years of acrimonious debate, European Union states are finally near a compromise solution on the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops that will give reluctant governments the right to opt out from the practice.

European environment ministers meeting on Thursday in Luxembourg are expected to okay a draft ministerial accord promoted by Greece – the current holder of the rotating EU Presidency – which is modeled on a doomed 2010 proposal.

If agreed upon, the proposal will then go to the European Parliament for approval.

According to the draft accord, a country of the 28-member bloc will have the right to cultivate gene-altered crops, made by companies such as American agrochemical giant Monsanto, only after these have been found to comply with health and environment standards at an EU level. A national government will then be able to oppose cultivation of a genetically modified organism (GMO) based on a number of criteria such as environment, town-planning or agricultural policy.

“Cultivation [requires] more flexibility in certain instances as it is an issue with strong national, regional and local dimensions,” according to the text of the proposal that was leaked to the press on Wednesday.

In March, Environment Minister Yiannis Maniatis said the government would not allow the growing of GM crops on Greek territory.