The proposal, announced in July by the European Commission, has sparked controversy. It is the first time the commission is overtly handing back a power to member states, the EUobserver reported Monday.
The proposal would allow countries such as France to maintain their ban on GMOs while permitting Spain and others to proceed with planting genetically modified crops.
Countries could ban genetically modified organisms on socioeconomic grounds and cultural and ethical grounds on top of the present contamination-only grounds.
The proposal has raised concerns about the implications for the EU's single market.
"If we continue like this, the single market has come to an end," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.
French Farm Minister Bruno Le Maire agreed.
"The commission must not hand over responsibility for this essential question for European agriculture," he said.
Even pro-GMO Spain has raised concerns.
"Moving to authorizations by each country could take us to the beginning of re-nationalization, something we have never supported in Spain," Farm Minister Elena Espinosa said.