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Brussels first in Europe to ban genetically modified crops

February 8, 2014

The Brussels-Capital Region has banned the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the open air, fearing the contamination of classic crops.

According to the region’s agriculture minister, Céline Fremault, who introduced the ban, it is almost unavoidable that pollen or seeds from the GMO crops will contaminate ordinary crops – a position firmly opposed by those who support the use of GMOs. They point out that despite GMOs being cultivated now for some years, not a single case of cross-contamination has been seen.

According to the government, agricultural areas in Brussels – the region has some 650 hectares of farming land – are too close together to exclude the risk. Allowing both kinds of crops to grow side by side would be more costly than the extra economic value of the GMO crops, Fremault said in a joint statement with the region’s environment minister Evelyne Huytebroeck.

The region stresses that its decision is not a commentary on the sale of genetically modified products or on the larger environmental effects of the crops. Those are European and federal questions, said a Fremault spokesperson. According to the government, the decision means that Brussels is Europe’s first GMO-free region.

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