Paul Christou of the University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center in Spain and colleagues said studies suggest the EU's stand on genetically-modified crops is undermining its competitiveness in the agricultural sector and that of its humanitarian activities in the developing world.
"Many aspects of the EU agricultural policy, including those concerning GMOs, are internally inconsistent and actively obstruct what the policy sets out to achieve," the scientists wrote in the journal Trends in Plant Science,.
A de facto moratorium exists in Europe on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops such as maize, cotton and soybean, even as the same products are imported because of insufficient capacity to produce them by conventional means at home, the scientists said.
"EU farmers are denied freedom of choice -- in essence, they are prevented from competing because EU policies actively discriminate against those wishing to cultivate genetically engineered crops, yet exactly the same crops are approved for import," Christou said.
The EU refuses to change its policies even though GMOs must pass stringent safety tests and there has been no evidence of harm or health risks in more than 15 years of GMO agriculture around the world, he said.
"Failing such a change, ultimately the EU will become almost entirely dependent on the outside world for food and feed and scientific progress, ironically because the outside world has embraced the technology which is so unpopular in Europe, realizing this is the only way to achieve sustainable agriculture."
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