Germany follows Scotland's example with move to ban all GM crops and opt out of EU approvals

The SNP says the news shows 'leading Europe' on the issue

Germany has reportedly begun taking steps towards banning the use of all genetically modified crops.

New rules will allow individual member states to block farmers from using GM organisms, even if the variety has been approved on an EU-wide basis.

Scotland became the first country to opt out of bloc-wide GM licence, a move it said was needed to preserve the country’s “clean and green brand”.

Germany’s agriculture minister has reportedly now said his country wants to follow suit. In a letter seen by the Reuters news agency, Christian Schmidt said Germany will persist with its previously-announced ban on all GM crops.

 EU countries have been told they have until 3 October 2015 to inform the Commission if they which to opt out of the bloc-wide approvals, and Scotland’s SNP said it welcomed Germany’s company in the move.

The SNP’s Rob Gibson said: “Like Scotland, the German Government recognises the importance of protecting its food and drink sector and keeping its environment clean and green.

“In government, the SNP has ensured that Scotland is at the forefront of environmental protection – legislating for world-leading climate change targets, significantly increasing renewable generation and placing a moratorium on fracking. The German decision shows that Scotland is now also leading Europe on GM crops.”

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that improving crops by molecular biotechnology techniques is safe, and the practice is widespread across the Americas and Asia.

GM crops have nonetheless divided opinion in Europe. While the UK government is among those in favour, Germany as well as France have previously said they are opposed.