Saying the European Union’s (EU’s) citizen initiative procedure, created under the Lisbon Treaty, is “not yet valid,” EU Health Commissioner John Dalli has reportedly dismissed on procedural grounds the submission of 1.03 million citizens taking part in a campaign to compel the European Commission (EC) to prohibit genetically modified (GM) crops until an “independent ethical, scientific body” assesses their impact. This first effort to activate the Lisbon pact’s rules allowing one million citizens to propose legislation was apparently initiated in May 2010 after the EC decided to grant the first EU GM cultivation approval.

According to one of the organizations responsible for the anti-GM campaign, “European citizens have given the Commission more than a million reasons to listen to the public and act with precaution rather than cave to the private interests of a handful of GM companies who are influencing Europe’s agricultural future.” Dalli indicated that he would take the request into consideration as a petition rather than a citizens’ initiative, noting the EC could not “accept any initiative at this stage,” since the European Parliament has not agreed yet on how the procedure would operate, said a news source. The groups supporting the campaign reportedly argued that the citizens’ initiative procedure is “directly applicable” and can be exercised in the absence of any other regulation. See Irish Times, December 10, 2010.