The European Commission today (13 July) formally proposed giving EU member states the right to ban or allow the cultivation of GM food on their territory.

The tabled regulation would preserve the existing EU-wide controls on GM production but allows governments to prevent the cultivation of GM foods authorised elsewhere in the EU.

EU health commissioner John Dalli said: "The concrete measures adopted today will allow member states the freedom to decide on GMO cultivation."

The Commission has also proposed formal guidance on preventing cross-contamination of standard and organic foodstuffs in countries where GM production is allowed.

The Commission also laid out rules for governments wanting to establish ‘GM free’ areas within their territories.

EU ministers and the European Parliament have been asked to approve the new rules.