Gently modified

EUROPE has long been defiantly GM-free. The Americas and most of Asia grows the stuff without fuss. But crops whose genes have been modified in some way may not (with a few exceptions) be grown in the European Union.

Until now. On January 13th the European Parliament lifted the EU-wide ban, instead allowing national governments to impose their own restrictions. The plan has already been approved by governments, so the change should come into force this spring.

It will still not be a breakthrough for GMOs, as most European governments remain firmly against them. In the past, they would not (in theory) have been able to stop GM crops being grown on their soil if the EU approved them—and the EU was supposed to consider scientific evidence in its ruling. Now governments will be free to impose national bans for almost any reason.

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