The “safeguard clause”

By Manon Godot, January 2010

Once the new GMO has been introduced on the market, according to the procedure of the directive 2001/18, and respecting the conditions of traceability and labelling, any of the member states can still use the “safeguard clause” in order to suspend the use of a determined GMO on its national market.

A number of Member States have invoked the so-called ’safeguard clause’ of the previous Directive 90/220/EEC. This clause is also included in Directive 2001/18/EC (Article 23), which replaces Directive 90/220/EEC. This safeguard clause provides that where a Member State has justifiable reasons to consider that a GMO, which has received written consent for placing on the market, constitutes a risk to human health or the environment, it may provisionally restrict or prohibit the use and/or sale of that product on its territory. The safeguard clause was invoked on nine separate occasions under Directive 90/220/EEC during the late 1990s and in 2000, three times by Austria, twice by France, and once each by Germany, Luxembourg, Greece and the United Kingdom. The scientific evidence provided by these Member States as justification for their measures was submitted to all relevant Scientific Committee(s) of the European Union for opinion. In review of all of these cases, the Committee deemed that there was no new evidence which would justify overturning the original authorisation decision.

The safeguard clause had been used notably for the following products: MON 810 maize, T25 maize, bt176, Ms1Rf1, and Topas 19/2.


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