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17.01.2018 |

Commission and council dig in on GMO opt-outs

The issue of genetically modified organisms is heavily contested, with EU member states unable to reach a common position

The European Commission and the EU's national governments have passed each other the buck on who should make the first move on a heavily-criticised proposal on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food.

The proposal would allow EU member states to ban GMOs - even if those GMOs had received an EU-wide stamp of approval.

There are widely diverging views on the benefits - and dangers - of GMOs, and the EU can be roughly divided into one-third pro-GMO countries, one-third anti-GMO countries, and another third which abstains from voting in the approval process.

The commission has often seen itself forced to approve GMOs without the backing of member states, because no majority was either in favour – or against – it.

The current plan has been stuck in the legislative pipeline since 2015, after more than 80 percent of members of the European Parliament (EP) rejected it.

It can only become law if both the parliament and the Council of the EU – where national governments meet – agree on its content.

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