Note this excellent report: "Throwing caution to the wind: a review of the European Food Safety Authority and its work on genetically modified foods and crops."

European Court overrules ban on GM crops
Commission urged to review EU law
Wednesday October 5 2005

Brussels, October 5th 2005 Friends of the Earth Europe has called for a new European law that will allow regions to ban genetically modified crops. The call follows today’s ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against the region of Upper Austria who had introduced a law effectively banning the growing of genetically modified crops (GMOs).

The Genetechnology Prohibition law was passed by Upper Austria’s provincial parliament in January 2003. It took a precautionary stance and argued that as long as the coexistence of genetically modified (GM) and non GM crops was not solved, the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) would be banned for a period of three years. (1)

Nearly three years on, the ruling against Upper Austria comes at a time when there are still no EU-wide coexistence measures in place to protect farming and consumers from GMO contamination.

Upper Austria is just one of 164 Regions and 4500 local authorities in the EU to have declared themselves GMO-free. [2]

The European Commission is opposed to GM-free zones and vetoed the Upper Austrian law under Treaty article 95(5), the "environmental guarantee" clause. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an opinion that stated that no new evidence for health or environmental risks was presented by the Region to justify its law. Friends of the Earth Europe published a damming critique of the EFSA in November 2004, accusing it of bias and going beyond its remit to benefit the biotechnology industry. Since its conception the EFSA has rejected virtually every concern raised by Member States’ about the safety of GM foods and crops. [3]

Helen Holder, GMO campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said:

"The movement against genetically modified crops will not be stopped by one legal ruling. Thousands of local governments and regions across Europe are voting to ban these unwanted and risky crops. It is time that European law reflected the wishes of the majority and stopped these crops until their safety can be assured. "

Helen Holder, Friends of the Earth Europe GMO campaign coordinator:
+322 542 01 80
+324 74 857 638 (mobile)


[1] The Upper Austria law is still only a draft due to the Commission’s refusal to accept it. It was notified under document number C(2003 3117) OJ 2003 L230 p.34

The law was based on a scientific paper written by Werner Mueller of Global 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria) "GVO freie Bewirtschaftungsgebiete: Konzeption und Analyse von Szenarien und Umsetzungsschritten".
[2] A map of all GMO-free Regions and country/Regional information can be found at :

[3] "Throwing caution to the wind: a review of the European Food Safety Authority and its work on genetically modified foods and crops." Friends of the Earth Europe, November 2004.

Friends of the Earth Europe campaigns for sustainable and fair societies and for the protection of the environment, unites more than 30 national organisations with thousands of local groups and is part of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth International