This week, the European Commission announced that when it comes to GMOs, “the need for changes that reflect public views and allow national governments to have a greater say on the use of European Union (EU)-authorized GMOs for animal (feed) or human (food) consumption.” The commission has proposed an amendment to existing legislation, suggesting that Member States will have more freedom to restrict or prohibit the use of EU-authorized GMOs in food or feed on their territory.

The commission’s proposal will not have any affect on Europe’s current GMO labeling structure. However, it will mean that once a GMO is authorized for use, Member States will have the option to opt out from allowing that specific GMO to be used within their food chain. Opt outs will only be accepted if they meet stringent rules put in place by the EU, and their resistance must be realistically justified and based on “legitimate reasons”, which will be ultimately gauged by the EU.

Health and food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis says: "I am pleased to deliver on one of the important commitments taken by this Commission, reviewing the legislation on the decision-making process on GMOs. The Commission has listened to the concerns of many European citizens, reflected in the positions expressed by their national governments. Once adopted, today's proposal will, fully in line with the principle of subsidiarity, grant Member States a greater say as regards the use of EU- authorised GMOs in food and feed on their respective territories."

The European Commission hopes that these recent efforts prove to European citizens that their concerns are being heard and taken seriously. This legislative proposal will now be sent to the European Parliament and the Council to run its ordinary legislative course.