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Brussels, 14th March 2011

GMO controls: Commission takes Poland to EU Court of Justice over inadequate measures

The European Commission decided today to refer Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union for incorrect implementation of Directive 2009/41/EC that concerns activities related to genetically modified micro-organisms. The Commission considers that Poland has failed to meet the Directive's requirements take all adequate measures to limit possible risk to human health and the environment, which might arise from such activities.

The issue

When micro-organisms are genetically modified, cultured, stored, transported, destroyed or used in any other way, humans and the environment may be exposed to risk. Directive 2009/41/EC requires Member States to ensure that all measures necessary are taken in order to avoid activities related to genetically modified micro-organisms having negative consequences on human health and/or the environment..

The Commission considers that the manner in which Poland has implemented the Directive fails to control all possible risk to human health and the environment. For example, Poland fails to require that premises on which certain activities have taken place in the past are re-notified to competent national authorities when there are once again activities related to genetically modified micro-organisms taking place there. Also, Poland does not correctly apply the criteria laid down in the Directive for assessing and classifying possible risk.

Poland has proposed a draft Law on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to meet concerns expressed by the Commission. However, the Polish authorities have not notified any clear timetable for the adoption of the draft law. In addition, the Commission believes that the draft law as it currently stands does not address all the areas where the existing law is in breach of requirements under the Directive.


Directive 2009/41/EC classifies risk of exposure to negative consequences in the following manner: no or negligible risk, low risk, moderate risk and high risk. Detailed criteria for assessing risk, as well as protective measures for each of the four levels of risk are laid down.

National competent authorities examine notified activities and protective measures.

If they so wish, national competent authorities may consult groups or the public on any aspect of the notified activities.

If an accident occurs, competent authorities and Member States, which also may be affected, are to be immediately informed.

More information on the infringement procedure: MEMO/11/162

More information on genetically modified food and feed:

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