EU to allow small amounts of GM contamination into imported crops
Feb 23, 2011, 11:21 GMT
Brussels - Foreign-farmed crops will be allowed into the European Union as long as their genetically-modified (GM) content is lower than 0.1 per cent, the bloc's member states decided on Tuesday.
The decision - valid only for crops used in animal feed - was set to please the United States, Argentina and Brazil, the world's largest producers of GM crops, but angered environmental groups strongly opposed to them.
The EU's executive, the European Commission, said the new rules would address 'the current uncertainty EU operators face when placing on the market feed based on imports of raw materials from third countries.'
Currently, any feed shipment contaminated by a GM crop which is legal in the country of origin but not on the EU market is blocked.
Under the new set up, the shipments will go through as long as the 0.1-per-cent threshold is respected, and as long as an EU authorization is pending or one has been given in the past and has since expired.
'If the safety of a GM crop has not been tested in Europe, it should not be allowed,' Stefanie Hundsdorfer from environmental lobby group Greenpeace complained.
'The danger now is that EU countries come under pressure from the pro-GM lobby to also allow GM contamination in food products for direct human consumption,' Hundsdorfer added.
Provided that the European Parliament raises no opposition, the new EU rules are set to come into force within three months.