Malta opts out of growing GMO crops

Government decides to ban the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Malta has told the European Commission it will ban the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), availing itself of an opt-out clause.

An EU law approved in March cleared the way for new GMO crops to be approved after years of deadlock. But the law also gave individual countries the right to ban GMO crops even after they have been approved as safe by the European Commission.

The amendment to the Directive 2001/18/EC allowed member states to opt out of GMO cultivation.

The Ministry for the Environment said that the ban will take place without affecting the risk assessment provided in the system of Union authorisations of GMOs – either in the course of the authorisation procedure or thereafter, and independently of the measures that Member States cultivating GMOs are entitled or required to take by application of Directive 2001/18/EC to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in other products. 

“By deciding to opt out, Malta is contributing to the facilitating of the smooth functioning of the internal market, through the likely improvement in the process for authorisations of GMOs, as well as to the freedom of choice of consumers, farmers and operators, whilst providing greater clarity to affected stakeholders concerning the cultivation of GMOs in the Union,” the Ministry said in a statement.

It added that Malta was seeking to safeguard positions taken before 1 April, when it voted against eight cases of notifications/applications submitted to the Commission, demanding that their geographical scope be adjusted to the effect that all of the territory of Malta be excluded from cultivation of GMOs.

“Therefore, Malta is seeing to ensure legal certainty and avoid creating potential distortions of competition by treating existing authorisation holders differently from future applicants for authorisation.”