EU Member Countries Begin to Stay Away From Growing GMO Crops

By Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Gina-Marie Cheeseman is a freelance writer. This article was first published on
September 1, 2015 Updated: September 1, 2015

Genetically modified (GMO) crops are becoming persona non grata in European Union (EU) countries. Latvia and Greece have become the first EU countries to opt-out of growing GMO crops under a law passed in March. Monsanto accepted the two countries’ geographical opt-outs of its MON810 GM Maize, the only GMO crop currently allowed to be cultivated in the EU.

Under the new law, EU countries can opt-out of growing GMO crops by banning them. Countries have until October 3, 2015 to inform the EU Commission that they want to opt-out of the new rules. They must request exclusions from the company responsible for the GMO crop.

Monsanto said Latvia’s request “contradicts and undermines the scientific consensus on the safety of MON810,” EurActiv reports. Latvia’s request will not impact the company’s business. “Nevertheless, we regret that some countries are deviating from a science-based approach to innovation in agriculture and have elected to prohibit the cultivation of a successful GM product on arbitrary political grounds,” Monsanto added.

A 2010 poll found that 60 percent of Europeans think GMO foods are unsafe to eat. A poll earlier this year found that 52 percent of Americans also think GMOs are not safe to eat.(valeriopardi/iStock)

Germany and France are expected to also seek opt-outs. Recently, the German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt announced to German state governments that he intends for Germany to opt-out of growing GMO crops, Reuters reports. Schmidt reportedly asked German state authorities to state whether or not their region will be included in the opt-out.

Earlier this month, Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead announced the Scottish government will submit an opt-out request. “Scotland is known around the world for our beautiful natural environment – and banning growing genetically modified crops will protect and further enhance our clean, green status,” Lochhead said. “There is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers and I am concerned that allowing GM crops to be grown in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand.”

Despite the different approach to GMOs by EU countries and the U.S. government, Europeans and Americans have similar opinions on the subject. A 2010 poll found that 60 percent of Europeans think GMO foods are unsafe to eat. A poll earlier this year found that 52 percent of Americans also think GMOs are not safe to eat.

Unlike all EU countries, GMO foods are not required by federal law to be labeled in the U.S. despite the fact that most Americans favor GMO labeling.

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