Germany is pressing the European Commission to allow individual EU countries to ban cultivation of crops with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) before the 2015 harvest.
German farm minister Christian Schmidt said "social-economic reasons" should be taken into account to allow a European Union country to ban GMO crops even when the bloc had approved the crops as safe.
This would allow bans based on opposition from a large part of a country's population, Schmidt told a joint press conference in Berlin on Friday with new EU agricultural commissioner Phil Hogan.
Schmidt had supported an EU initiative approved on June 12 giving member states the freedom to prohibit GMO crops, saying this opened the way for a ban in Germany even if crops had been approved by the bloc for EU-wide cultivation.
No final rule is yet in place but the European Parliament on Nov. 11 also approved plans for national bans.
Meanwhile, EU approval of the GMO maize type Pioneer 1507 developed by U.S. groups DuPont and Dow Chemical is still pending.
Schmidt said a final decision on national bans was needed in time to apply to next year's harvest. "That means 1507 should not make it to the sowing, certainly not in Germany," he said.
Currently, when the EU approves crops as safe to produce their cultivation must be allowed in all EU states.
Asked about the prospects for regional EU cultivation bans inside the EU, commissioner Hogan said he was "not yet in a position" to give a final answer.
So far, EU authorities have approved only two GMO crops for commercial cultivation, and one was later blocked by a court.
That leaves Monsanto's GMO maize MON810 as the only GMO crop grown in the EU, where it has been cultivated in Spain and Portugal for a decade.
(Reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann; Writing by Michael Hogan; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)