EU governments will be able to restrict or ban GMO-crops on a case-by-case basis under measures approved by the European Parliament's all-party environment committee earlier this week.
Critics of GM crops say herbicides used in conjunction with the plants promote widespread weed resistance, or super weeds.
EU countries should also be free to ban GM crops to protect local plants, habitats and alternative farming practices such as organic production, the European Parliament's influential environment committee said in a vote in Brussels.
"This vote is a clear signal from the Parliament [...] that some agricultural and environmental impacts can be cited by member states to justify a ban or restriction on GM cultivation," said lawmaker Corrine Lepage, who led the vote.
Socialists and Democrat spokeswoman on environment and health issues Linda McAvan said: “The existing law does not deal with the issue adequately. There is a legal vacuum.
“Under the terms of this vote, member states will be obliged to prevent contamination of GMO-free crops and other products on their territory and in the border areas of neighbouring member states.”
The European Commission in July 2010 proposed draft legislation that would give governments the power to decide on bans in a bid to break a deadlock in EU GM crop approvals, after just two varieties have been approved for cultivation in more than 12 years.
The draft rules must be jointly approved by EU governments and legislators before becoming law.
The full Parliament will vote on the environment committee's amendments and other proposed changes to the draft legislation in June.
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