*Austrian GMO free zone denied - but UK campaign not affected
*European Union turns down GMO-free zones
Austria GMO free zone denied - but UK campaign not affected
GM-free Britain - Extra news
Liz Wright, Real Food & Farming, Friends of the Earth
The European Commission has decided to reject a request from Austria to introduce national measures banning the use of GMOs in the region of Upper Austria for a three-year period. The request was notified in March 2003, under Article 95(5) of the EC Treaty. This Article allows Member States to derogate from European Union harmonisation measures, under certain strict conditions. These include the emergence of new scientific evidence as well as the existence of particular country-specific conditions. But after examination of the Austrian request, the Commission concluded today that these conditions were not met in this case.
However, this does not affect our GM-free Britain campaign - we are using a different route for areas to become GM-free, using Article 19 of the Deliberate Release Directive, so this decision should not cause alarm! The Austrian request sought a blanket ban on all GMOs, whereas we recognise that it would only be possible to ban GM crops on a case by case basis under current EU law.
European Union turns down GMO-free zones
GMO-FREE ZONES - not in accordance with EU regulations
The European Commission has decided today, (2 September) to turn down GMO-free zones as it rejected a request from the Upper Austrian regional Government to ban the use of genetically engineered seeds.
The Austrians had asked permission from Brussels to introduce a three-year long ban on GMO-seeds as the coexistence between GM and non-GM methods of agricultural production are not fully resolved.
The Commission concluded however, that such a ban would be in breach of the EU Treaty and could not even be allowed under the special environment protection clause, under Article 95(5).
This Article allows Member States to derogate from European Union harmonisation measures, under certain strict conditions related to the "protection of the environment or the working environment".
Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström explained that the article was not to be used in this case as the Austrian concerns were "shared by many regions across Europe, for which it is possible to find a viable response within the existing legal framework".
After today's decision it is clear the European Commission is against the concept of GMO-free zones. A GMO-free zone could only be established in Upper Austria in conflict with the EU, said Austrian Greenpeace.
As the Commission has put itself on the same side as industry in this case, then Austria should not fear bringing the case to the European Court of Justice, the genetic expert, Thomas Fertl from Greenpeace said.
Written by Lisbeth Kirk
Go to a Print friendly Page
Email this Article to a Friend
Back to the Archive