The European Union has unveiled new rules to limit the ability of companies to import genetically modified crops into the bloc, after a year of uncertainty surrounding the impact of the new regulations.
In the latest in a series of regulations introduced by the EU, it is hoped to allow for the importation of crops and foodstuffs from “non-EU countries” and to create an EU-wide system for tracking and reporting the movements of products.
But the rules, which were announced on Thursday, come at a cost to the agricultural sector in Ireland.
For one, the new rules mean that farmers must seek permission from the European Commission and the European Court of Justice before they can use genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
This means farmers will have to apply to the Commission and seek approval before using GMO crops, and then have to wait for a response.
There are concerns that this could hamper the ability to grow and sell the food, but the EU has said that it is working towards a solution that allows farmers to apply for a special permission.
“The Commission has been working closely with the European Food Safety Authority to ensure that these provisions will be implemented and work towards a positive outcome,” said a spokesperson for the EU Commission.
“We have already started work with Member States to clarify the conditions under which it is possible to import certain crops and foods, including the import of genetically modified products.”
But in a statement to the Irish Times, the Irish Agriculture Minister Michael Creed said that the EU plans to introduce more controls on GMO imports.
“This is a significant move by the Commission to further restrict access to Irish farming,” he said.
“It will be important for all farmers in Ireland to ensure they have a clear understanding of what their rights are and how they can access them.
We have been working very closely with all the stakeholders in this area to ensure the best possible solution.”
He said that there was an urgent need for clarity on how to address the concerns of farmers in a transparent way.
“These proposals are a step in the right direction but it is essential that the rules are implemented and implemented quickly,” he added.
“I would urge the Commission not to rush into these regulations.”
The new EU regulations are part of the EU-US trade deal, TTIP, and include rules on biotechnology, food and agricultural technology.
Under the TTIP rules, US firms will be able to import products from EU countries, including from countries that have signed up to a US-EU trade deal.
“A number of EU Member States, including Ireland, have raised concerns over the potential impact of these provisions,” said the spokesperson for Irish Trade Minister Richard Bruton.
“In order to reassure the Irish people and to facilitate the trade negotiations between the EU and the US, we will work to ensure our concerns are fully addressed.”