Alyn Smith MEP, Scotland’s sole member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee, has slammed today's Commission proposal for national opt-outs from the circulation of GM food and feed products as “an unworkable fragmentation of the European single market” that “will do nothing to help Scotland remain GM-free.”
The proposed legislation states that Member States will be able to exclude food or feed products containing GMOs from their territory, and have to justify their decision based on EU law and international trade rules. The foreseen legislation mirrors a recently passed act by the Parliament and Council on GM cultivation, which allows Member States the right to restrict or ban the cultivation of GM crops on their territory, even after approval at EU level.
“This proposal makes no sense. Within a single barrier-free market, such as the UK or the EU, stopping the circulation of GM products is difficult. Short of setting up customs checks for internal UK trade, how would we stop beef from a GM-crop-fed cow entering the country? To maintain a single market with the rest of the UK, we would almost certainly be subject to DEFRA decision-making, and they’re not going to ban the circulation of GM products.
“The free movement of goods in Europe is one of the core principles of the European Union; putting up practical barriers to this, particularly goods already authorised at EU level, could expose Member States to challenges by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). We’ve already seen the USA, Canada, Argentina and Brazil – four of the EU’s major agricultural trading partners – challenge the legitimacy over the proposals.
“Nor does this proposal address the need to fix the EU-level risk assessment and authorisation procedure to reflect the combined democratic views of the Member States. We don’t want another MON maize 1507 situation, where the crop was approved despite being opposed by 19 Member States versus 5 supporting.
“When it comes to GMOs and the European Commission, it’s déjà vu all over again. The Commission tried something similar before when they proposed national opt-outs for GM crop cultivation, which would have fragmented the single market and opened us up to trade challenges. I opposed it then and I’m opposing it now.
“This is an unworkable national opt-out and it won’t help Scotland at all. The Commission has to accept that the majority of European citizens don’t want GM food, and this Trojan Horse strategy to bring GM food into the food chain is utterly unacceptable.”