The Canadian government has voiced concerns about a European Union proposal to allow member states to decide whether to ban genetically modified (GM) crops.
The bloc’s executive – the European Commission – submitted the proposal in July in a bid to break a deadlock in EU GM approvals, with just two products authorized for cultivation since 1998.
If approved by EU governments and lawmakers, the plans would allow member states to ban the growing of GM varieties approved for cultivation at EU level, provided they use non-scientific arguments.
“Canada is concerned that the EU’s proposal does not appear to be consistent with a science-based approach,” Ottawa said in a letter sent to EU government embassies in Brussels and seen by Reuters.
In 2004 Canada, the United States and Argentina filed a complaint against the EU’s GM crop policies with the World Trade Organization (WTO), arguing that a de facto EU moratorium on new cultivation approvals between 1999 and 2003 was against global trade rules.
The complaint against the EU was largely backed by a WTO panel in 2006, but last year Canada – the world’s fourth-largest agricultural exporter – agreed to settle its case against the 27-nation bloc.
As part of the settlement Canada and the commission established a regular dialogue on GM issues, and Ottawa said in the letter it would seek further clarification on the proposals from the commission at its next meeting on Sept. 10.