Juncker breaks promise to make EU GMO decisions more democratic

National opt-outs on GMO imports would challenge single EU market

Press release - April 22, 2015
Brussels - The European Commission published today a proposal to amend rules on EU imports of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The proposed reform would still allow the Commission to authorise the import of GMOs even where a majority of national governments, the European Parliament and the public oppose them. The proposal does not affect authorisation procedures for the cultivation of GMOs.

Commenting on the proposed review, Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The Commission’s proposal is a farce because it leaves the current undemocratic system untouched. It would allow the Commission to continue ignoring major opposition to GM crops, despite president Juncker’s promise to allow a majority of EU countries to halt Commission decisions on GMOs”.

The review is one of the objectives under Juncker’s ten priorities as Commission president. He committed to make the EU “more democratic” by, among other things, “reviewing the laws that oblige the Commission to authorise genetically modified organisms, even when a majority of national governments is against this.

However, instead of changing the procedure for authorisation of GMO imports, the Commission wants to allow EU countries to opt out of imports into their territory, based on reasons other than health and environmental concerns.

“The Commission is offering EU countries a fake right to opt-out that won’t stand up in any court. EU free market rules will always trump national opt-outs for GMO imports, especially if governments are denied the possibility of justifying national measures on health and environmental grounds,” said Achterberg.

In recent months, pressure has been mounting from the biotech industry and the US government – particularly in the context of transatlantic trade agreement talks – to increase and speed up the number of authorisations for GMO imports and cultivation [1].

Meat, eggs and dairy products derived from livestock fed on GMOs do not have to be labelled under EU rules, denying consumers the right to choose.


[1] Greenpeace media briefing “Juncker’s ‘Union of democratic change’ undermined by corporate pressure on GM crops.


Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace EU food policy director,mobile +32 (0)498 36 24 03,

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 19 11,

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs: www.twitter.com/GreenpeaceEU


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