The European Council has agreed to a proposal to give Member States more flexibility to deal with GMO regulation on their own territory and MEPs will debate the proposal and vote on it today (Tuesday).

The EU has one of the toughest genetically modified food regulations in the world and the cultivation of GM crops is only allowed following a thorough risk assessment. Here the EU outlines the key issues.

Is it allowed to grow genetically modified crops in the EU?

Yes, but only once they have been authorised at EU level, following a strict risk assessment carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

After authorisation, individual EU countries can only ban the GM product on their territory by using the so-called safeguard clause. They have to justify this decision, showing that the GMO may cause harm to people or the environment.

Are any GMOs already cultivated in the EU and did any member state ban it?

Currently, only one GM crop - insect-resistant maize MON 810 from Monsanto - is grown in the EU. However, some countries - Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg and Poland - adopted safeguard clauses to prohibit its cultivation on their territories.

Why does the EU want to change the current system for authorising GM products?

Some Member States asked for more freedom and flexibility to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs on their territory.

On Tuesday (today) MEPs vote on a proposal to amend current legislation to give member states the freedom to restrict or prohibit the growth of GMOs on their own territory because of reasons related to the environment, even if the GMOs in question have already been approved at the EU level.