Brussels, Belgium — For the third time since 2005, the European Commission today tried to win a qualified majority of member states in support of a proposal forcing Austria to lift its bans on two GM maize varieties (MON810 and T25).
Austrian bans concern both cultivation of GMOs and food and feed uses.
Unlike the two previous instances, the Commission's proposal challenges only the Austrian ban on food and feed uses. This was an attempt to win a majority in Council, hoping to dismantle the unity of member states against Commission proposals to repeal national bans (1).
Today, only four member states (UK, The Netherlands, Sweden and Estonia) supported the Commission in its attack on the Austrian food and feed ban. However, given the procedural rules governing GMOs in the EU, the European Commission can nevertheless require Austria to lift its ban.
"Against the predominant positions expressed in Council and the will of the majority of EU citizens, the Commission, supported solely by four EU governments, is trying to force GMOs onto the European market. This is not only irresponsible towards the environment but also undemocratic with regard to the will of the majority of citizens and countries in Europe."
(1) In June 2005, December 2006 and February 2007, Environment Ministers rejected by qualified majority different Commission proposals forcing Austria and Hungary to lift their national bans on growing and importing specific genetically modified organisms.