September 30, 2015 / 4:53 PM / 5 years ago

Germany tells EU it will opt out of growing GMO crops

BERLIN, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Germany has told the European Union it will ban cultivation of crops with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), under new European Union rules allowing member states to opt out of GMO cultivation, a document seen by Reuters showed on Wednesday.

German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt has informed the EU Commission that Germany will not permit GMO cultivation on its territory, a letter from Germany’s Agriculture Ministry to the Commission seen by Reuters shows.

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.

Under the new EU rules, countries must by Oct. 3, 2015, inform the EU Commission if they wish to opt out of new EU GMO cultivation approvals.

Widely-grown in the Americas and Asia, GMO crops in Europe have divided opinion. Britain is in favour of them, while France and Germany are among countries that oppose them.

Schmidt has made the move although a draft law allowing the opt out is still going through the German parliament and is unlikely to be approved by Oct. 3.

There is general agreement in Germany that it should ban GMOs but disagreement whether the bans should be undertaken by federal or state authorities. (Reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann, writing by Michael Hogan, editing by William Hardy)

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