Luxembourg, 5 October 2005
Upper Austria Region has failed to win its case at the EU Court of First Instance on the region's draft law to ban planting GMOs. The court found against the Region on all four accounts. The Court said the Member State had failed to show that the measure was scientifically justified. The Court said a deviation from EU law was not warranted in this case, and that the arguments used to invoke the precautionary principle lacked substance. The actions were dismissed in their entirety and the costs to be paid by the region
"We are satisfied that EU law, which Member States including Austria only recently put in place, has been upheld," says Simon Barber, Director of the Plant Biotechnology Unit at EuropaBio - the EU Association for bioindustries. "Today's ruling confirms that Member States may not abuse safeguard procedures to prohibit the use of safe, licensed GM products in their territory."
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On 13 March 2003, the Republic of Austria notified the Commission of the Oberösterreichisches Gentechnik-Verbotsgesetz 2002, a draft law of the Land Oberösterreich (Province of Upper Austria) banning genetic engineering. The measure was intended to prohibit the cultivation of GM seed and planting material and secure a derogation from EU rules (Directive 2001/18 ). The notification relied on a report entitled 'GVO?freie Bewirtschaftungsgebiete: Konzeption und Analyse von Szenarien und Umsetzungsschritten' (GMO?free areas of farming: conception and analysis of scenarios and steps for realisation).
The Commission requested the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to issue an opinion on the scientific information relied on by the Republic of Austria. In its opinion of 4 July 2003, EFSA essentially reached the conclusion that that information did not contain any new scientific evidence which could justify banning GMOs in the Land Oberösterreich.