Latvia and Greece First Out as EU Introduces a GMO Opt-out Law

Photo of author

( — September 1, 2015) — Latvia and Greece are the first European Union countries to executed its rights given by a new EU opt-out law, which allows EU members to decide whether they would grow genetically modified crops.

While genetically modified food is grown largely in America and Asia, more EU countries are opposing GM seed. Opposing GMO food, Germany and France are still considering whether to follow Greece and Latvia. UK is a GMO friendly country; however, Scotland opposes the genetically modified crops.

A new GMO crops opt-out law, directly confronts US free trade deal supported by EU, under which the Union should open its doors widely for the US GM industry.  

In a statement on Thursday, the Commission confirmed its zero-tolerance policy against non-authorized GM products. The commission said their consulting on GMO crops with European Food Safety authority (EFSA) is simply seeking advice on “a scientific question” unrelated to trade negotiations with the United States.

The EFSA said it would issue a scientific opinion on the question by the end of 2017.

The European commission confirmed Thursday that Greece and Latvia are so far the only two countries that officially want out of the deal with Monsanto, who responded to Latvia’s request accusing that it “contradicts and undermines the scientific consensus on the safety of MON810”. However, Monsanto says its operations in EU are not large so they wouldn’t feel the loss.

“Nevertheless, we regret that some countries are deviating from a science-based approach to innovation in agriculture and have elected to prohibit the cultivation of a successful GM product on arbitrary political grounds,” Monsanto said in a statement.

The same day Greece and Latvia executed their opt-out rights before European commission; EU’s environmentalists urged other EU member countries to follow the example of Greece and Latvia.  

Requesting the expert opinion of the European Food Safety Authority, the largest grassroots environmental network in Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, circulated letters showing the European Commission is examining rules for imports of products with trace levels of GM.