Italy’s highest Appeals Court has ordered the Agriculture Ministry to allow a farm to grow genetically modified maize – overruling a de facto ban on GMO cultivation and causing an uproar in the country fiercely opposed to GMO crops.
In 2007, the ministry denied authorization to grow a GMO variety of maize already allowed in the European Union saying rules on coexistence of traditional and GMO crops were yet to be defined, according to the court ruling.
“The court … orders administration to conclude the authorization procedure,” the ruling said.
The ministry has taken the ruling into consideration but said in a statement the authorization would depend on an opinion of a technical commission. That is unlikely to be favourable given that the technical rules on GMO cultivation have yet to be defined.
“The court decision … obviously contradicts the will of an overwhelming majority of the Italian citizens and regions. And first of all, of an overwhelming majority of farmers who do not want GMOs in their fields,” Agriculture Minister Luca Zaia said in the statement.
Italy has a moratorium on cultivation and sale of GMO crops.
Italy’s biggest farmers’ group Coldiretti said in a separate statement it was ready to call for a referendum to demonstrate farmers’ anti-GMO vote.
About 72 per cent of Italians believe that food which contains GMOs is less healthy than traditional food.
The court’s decision is limited to the one particular case and does not mean an automatic lifting of the GMO ban in Italy, Coldiretti’s GMP expert Stefano Masini told Reuters.