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Document 52015DC0176

Authorisation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the EU

Authorisation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the EU

SUMMARY OF:

Communication (COM(2015) 176 final) – Reviewing the decision-making process on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

SUMMARY

WHAT DOES THIS COMMUNICATION DO?

It points out that the current system for the authorisation of genetically modified (GM) food and feed in the EU does not fully take into account the individual concerns of democratically elected national, regional and local governments. It therefore suggests ways to include these concerns in the authorisation process.

It proposes to amend Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 to allow individual EU countries to restrict or prohibit the use, on their territory (or part of it), of genetically modified food and feed that has been authorised at EU level.

This restriction or prohibition would be on grounds other than a risk to the environment or to human/animal health – the criteria assessed by the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA)* in its risk assessment.

KEY POINTS

Under Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, EU countries decide on the authorisation of GM food and feed in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (a committee comprising representatives of each EU country). If the Committee rejects an application, it may then be brought before an Appeal Committee. However, it has been very rare for authorisations to be agreed in these committees, so the European Commission, which takes action in the absence of a qualified majority, has ended up making most of the decisions regarding the authorisation of GM food and feed.

Measures adopted by EU countries on restricting or prohibiting GM food and feed must be compatible with the rules on the EU's single market.

Any EU country that wishes to opt out of authorising a particular GM food or feed would need to provide justification for that specific case, taking into account the GMO in question, the type of measure (e.g. a prohibition or restriction), and the specific circumstances present at national or regional level that constitute the grounds for such an opt-out.

BACKGROUND

A related directive (Directive (EU) 2015/412 which amends Directive 2001/18/EC) enables EU countries to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs on part or all of their territory. This is provided that such actions are justified on the basis of compelling reasons other than the risk to human/animal health and the environment (i.e. social, religious, industrial concerns, etc.).

However, Directive (EU) 2015/412 only concerns GMOs for cultivation and not those for GM food and feed, which is what this Communication is proposing should be covered.

GMO authorisation (European Commission's website)

GMO (European Food Safety Authority's website)

KEY TERM

* European Food Safety Authority (EFSA): the organisation responsible for the EU’s risk assessment in the food sector.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Reviewing the decision-making process on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) (COM(2015) 176 final of 22.4.2015)

RELATED ACTS

Directive (EU) 2015/412 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2015 amending Directive 2001/18/EC as regards the possibility for the Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their territory (OJ L 68, 13.3.2015, pp. 1–8)

last update 04.01.2016

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