BRUSSELS European Union regulators launched
legal action against Poland at Europe's highest court on
Thursday for the country's move to ban the trade in and
planting of genetically modified seeds, the EU executive said.
Poland's plans for what amounts to a national GMO ban,
announced last year, quickly drew criticism from European
Commission lawyers who routinely scrutinise any such proposals.
Earlier this month, they said it had no scientific
justification. But Poland's insistence in proceeding with the
ban, despite several warning letters sent from Brussels, meant
the Commission now had to resort to legal action, it said.
"On the basis of the information provided by the Polish
authorities in their replies to these letters, the Commission
has no alternative but to refer Poland to the ECJ," it said,
referring to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.
"In their reply, the Polish authorities confirm their
intention to maintain the ban Polish authorities believe that
the use of GM seeds encroaches on the sphere of public
morality, an encroachment that would justify a total ban on GM
As tested on several previous occasions, the Commission
takes the view that if a region wants to ban GMO crops or
products, such restrictions must be scientifically justified
and crop-specific to comply with EU law.
It also believes that a proposed ban must not be
politically motivated, or a blanket GMO restriction that might
distort the EU's single trading market.
Poland's law on seeds and plant protection, adopted in
April 2006, introduced a total ban of trade in GMO seeds
varieties on Polish territory.
Since the use and trade of GMO seeds was harmonized across
EU member countries, the Commission had told Poland -- in a
first letter sent in October 2006 and then in another sent in
June 2007 -- that its GMO ban broke EU law, the statement said.
(Reporting by Jeremy Smith; editing by Chris Johnson)