Cyprus, via the Ministry of Agriculture, had on September 28 this year requested for its entire territory to be excluded from the geographical scope of GMO applications that have already received a European Food Safety Authority opinion or are already authorised.
The European Commission, on November 16, officially informed the ministry that Cyprus’ request was approved.
Under the new Directive (EU) 2015/412, member states have two possibilities to restrict or prohibit GMO cultivation on their territory:
• During the authorisation procedure, a member state may ask to amend the geographical scope of the application to exclude part of or all its territory. The applicant has 30 days to adjust or confirm the scope of its application. Member states are allowed to ask for their territory to be reintegrated into the geographical scope of the authorisation after the GMO authorisation has been granted.
• After a GMO has been authorised for cultivation in the EU, a member state may adopt national opt out measures restricting or prohibiting the cultivation of a GM crop, by invoking compelling grounds such as environmental or agricultural policy objectives, town and country-planning, land use, coexistence, socio-economic impacts, or public policy.
Member states can use the new Directive’s provisions immediately, meaning that they can launch the procedure to adopt national opt out measures to ban/restrict cultivation of already authorised GMOs; or, during a six-month transitional period, they can request to be excluded from the geographical scope of the GMO applications that have already received an EFSA opinion or are already authorised.