The European Commission has rejected a Polish request for more time to revise a law prohibiting two genetically modified food categories.
The problem is that the law clashes with EU law allowing the modifications. Poland passed a law in 2006 prohibiting genetically modified seed and genetically modified animal food. The European Commission began pressing Poland to change its law the same year. It gave it a deadline of Christmas 2007.
The new Tusk government failed to meet the deadline, and asked for a new one. The European Commission refused to give it one, said a spokeswoman for EU Health Commissioner Nina Papadulaki. The commission’s tough response means it expects Poland to send Brussels a plan for changing its law as soon as possible. Polish leaders are likely to continue dragging their feet, though.
“I’m against genetically modified seeds and fodder,” said Minister of Environment Maciej Nowicki. That’s the same stand that the former minister, Jan Szyszko, had taken.
The EU passed a law in 2001 allowing genetically modified products. It prohibits a member country from forbidding, limiting or making it difficult to import or sell a genetically modified product.
A country can obtain a waiver to the law only when it can prove that a product poses a risk to human health or the environment – and even in that case the waiver will be temporary.
The World Trade Organization prohibits member countries from outlawing genetically modified products. It can slap sanctions on countries which fail to comply, including EU members.
The EU prohibited genetically altered products until the U.S. and Canada filed a formal complaint about the matter with the WTO. The EU lost that case and began accepting genetically modified products.
Genetic modification is one of the most important technological changes of the last several decades. Whether genetically modified food is safe is a question that has been controversial.
Sixty percent of Poles oppose genetically modified products, according to the Warsaw-based newspaper Gazeta Prawna.
They worry about the long-term health effects of consuming such foods. They also worry about the effect that genetically modified organisms will have on bio-diversity.