Greece: National GM crops situation, MON810 ban

Greece: National bans of GM crops

Greece invoked the safeguard clause to prohibit the cultivation of maize MON 810, but its “evidence“ was rejected by EFSA on 3 occasions. Greece never fulfilled the legal conditions to impose this ban, but the ban remains in place unchallenged.

Greek ban of genetically modified maize line MON810

Use: Cultivation-Import, processing and feed uses

Legal ground for ban quoted: Article 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC

  • Ban: On 11 March 2014, the European Commission requested the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to assess the supporting documentation submitted by Greece to introduce an emergency measure pursuant to Article 18 of Directive 2002/53/EC on genetically modified (GM) maize MON 810 cultivation in the European Union (EU). The request made by the EC dealt with a new scientific argumentation for supporting an extension of a previous Greek ban, which was provided by Greece in November 2013. This new scientific argumentation was preceded by three previous ones in 2006, 2007 and 2011.
  • EFSA: On 16 June 2014 the Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms of EFSA concluded that, based on the documentation submitted by Greece, there is no new specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment, that would support the notification of an emergency measure and that would invalidate the previous EFSA GMO Panel risk assessments of maize MON 810. EFSA also precised that the concern pertaining to co-existence was not considered as this is not in the remit of EFSA. Statement of EFSA on request from the European Commission related to the emergency measure notified by Greece on genetically modified maize MON 810 according to Article 18 of Directive 2002/53/EC1

Reactions European Commission, European Court of Justice, national courts

  • Failure to fulfill the legal requirement: Greece has never fulfilled the legal requirement to provide detailed grounds for considering that genetically modified maize MON 810 constitute a risk to human health or environment. However maize MON810 has been prohibited in Greece since 2006, being the ban enacted in 2011 an extension of a previous ban.
  • No action of the EC on the current ban: The European Commission did not take any action against the Greek ban adopted in November 2011.
  • First Greek submission of the safeguard clause and EFSA rejection: On 29 March 2006, Greece had already invoked Article 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC and Article 18 of Directive 2002/53/EC to provisionally prohibit the cultivation of the authorised genetically modified maize MON810 on its territory. EFSA stated that the scientific dossier submitted provided no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health and the environment to justify a prohibition of cultivation of maize MON810 authorised in Greece.
  • Second Greek submission of the safeguard clause and EFSA rejection: On 13 September 2007, Greece notified to the European Commission a ministerial decision concerning the extension of validity and amendment of the existing safeguard measure invoked under Article 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC and Article 18 of Directive 2002/53/EC. Also in this case EFSA concluded that no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health and the environment, were provided that would justify a prohibition of cultivation of maize MON810 authorised in Greece
  • Failure of the EC action against the previous Greek safeguard clause: In February 2009 the European Commission proposed to the Standing Committee of Member States a draft decision stipulating that Greece should repeal its measures against the cultivation of seeds of genetically modified maize MON810. Greece supported by ten other Member States, requested a postponement of the vote on the decision until the renewal of the authorization of maize MON810 was concluded.
  • Third Greek submission of the safeguard clause and EFSA rejection: In November 2011, Greece provided to the European Commission a new scientific argumentation in support of its request for the prohibition of the placing on the market of the genetically modified (GM) maize MON 810 according to Article 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC. This request was preceded by two previous ones in 2006 and 2007. On 6 September 2012 the Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms of EFSA concluded that the scientific evidence currently available did not sustain the arguments provided by Greece and that cultivation of maize MON 810 in Greece was unlikely to have an adverse effect on human and animal health and the environment.