Many of the regional and local GM-free declarations in Europe are declarations of intent. If the farmers are party to such a declaration, this is of course sufficient. Many pro-GM politicians and activists claim no more is possible: they say the EU decides about commercial GM crops and national governments about GM field trials. There is some space in EU-law for regional bans on GM crops, but this is very hard and also disputed. However, this does not mean that farmers’, consumers’ and regional politicians’ hands are bound. Firstly, nothing can stop a community or a region from banning GM on farmland which is its own property. And secondly, GM laws are not the only laws: there are also spatial planning or zoning laws. Although these are different in every country, they usually allow the spatial separation of conflicting land uses. It is not hard to argue that GM agriculture – especially the present pesticide-related GM crops, but also other ones – conflicts with other land uses, like GM-free agriculture or nature. Some nature conservation rules, like Natura 2000, even demand that adjacent land is alos protected. With these arguments, GM bans can be enforced in zoning plans. This is what Nijmegen has just done.
More technical and historical details in the Dutch version of this article. Just change language settings of the website into NL to get there.