European Court of Justice Attempts to Stop Democratic EU Bans on GM Crops

Posted on Sep 14 2017 - 10:04pm by Sustainable Pulse

The European Court of Justice attempted to remove the right of democratically elected governments across the European Union (EU) to ban genetically modified crops in a ruling released on Wednesday, in a move that has led to outrage in many EU countries.

European Court of Justice glyphosate

Court of Justice of the European Union – Press Release:

In 1998, the European Commission authorised the placing on the market of genetically modified maize MON 810. In its decision, the Commission referred to the opinion of the Scientific Committee which stated that there was no reason to believe that that product would have any adverse effects on human health or the environment.

In 2015 nineteen EU countries confirmed a complete ban on the cultivation of GM Crops

In 2013, the Italian Government asked the Commission to adopt emergency measures to prohibit the cultivation of maize MON 810 in the light of some new scientific studies carried out by two Italian research institutes. On the basis of a scientific opinion issued by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the Commission concluded that there was no new science-based evidence to support the requested emergency measures and to invalidate its previous conclusions about the safety of maize MON 810. Despite this, in 2013 the Italian Government adopted a ministerial decree prohibiting the cultivation of MON 810 in Italian territory.

In 2014, Mr Giorgio Fidenato and others cultivated maize MON 810 in breach of the ministerial decree, for which they were prosecuted.

In the context of criminal proceedings brought against those persons, the Tribunale di Udine (District Court, Udine, Italy) asked the Court of Justice, in particular, whether emergency measures may, in relation to food, be taken on the basis of the precautionary principle. In accordance with the precautionary principle, Member States may adopt emergency measures in order to avert risks to human health that have not yet been fully identified or understood because of scientific uncertainty.

By its judgment delivered Wednesday, the Court points out, first of all, that both EU food law and EU legislation on genetically modified food and feed  seek to ensure a high level of protection of human health and consumers’ interest, whilst ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market, of which the free movement of safe and wholesome food and feed is an essential aspect.

In that context, the Court finds that, where it is not evident that genetically modified products are likely to constitute a serious risk to human health, animal health or the environment, neither the Commission nor the Member States have the option of adopting emergency measures such as the prohibition on the cultivation of maize MON 810.

The Court emphasises that the precautionary principle, which presupposes scientific uncertainty as regards the existence of a particular risk, is not sufficient for the adoption of such measures. Although that principle may justify the adoption of provisional risk management measures in the area of food in general, it does not allow for the provisions laid down in relation to genetically modified foods to be disregarded or modified, in particular by relaxing them, since those foods have already gone through a full scientific assessment before being placed on the market.

Moreover, the Court finds that a Member State may, where it has officially informed the Commission of the need to resort to emergency measures and where the Commission has not acted, adopt such measures at the national level. Furthermore, it may maintain or renew those measures, so long as the Commission has not adopted a decision requiring their extension, amendment or abrogation. In those circumstances, the national courts have jurisdiction to assess the lawfulness of the measures concerned.

About the Author

Sustainable Pulse provides the general public with the latest global news on GMOs, Sustainable Food and Sustainable Agriculture from our network of worldwide sources.

2 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Lynn Wood September 20, 2017 at 19:57 - Reply

    How to farm.
    .Scrape the soil flat.
    .Spray the soil with pesticides and herbicides to kill everything.
    .Plant the Genetically Modified Seed that has been modified to produce insecticide in every cell of the crop plant.
    .Spray the field with more insecticide and herbicide as the crop grows.
    .Before harvest spray the crop with a herbicide which will desiccate the crop so that it will be ready to harvest on schedule.
    .Treat the harvest with fungicide so that the harvest will keep without spoilage forever.
    Completely harmless. Bankable. Efficient……..

  2. Jeremy Tager September 22, 2017 at 07:40 - Reply

    Perhaps it is time to change the assessment laws so that regulators can longer rely exclusively or primarily on industry funded and non-peer reviewed data. The evidence is overwhelming that such ‘science’ is significantly less reliable than peer reviewed data. Why are food regulators, who are supposed to ensure the safety of food, relying on data from companies who have all too often engaged in fraud, manipulation and other means of assuring that data says what they want it to say.

Leave a Reply to Jeremy Tager

Click here to cancel reply.