The European Commission has put forward proposals to deregulate the use of some GM crops.

The changes would mean genetically modified plants ‘comparable’ to naturally occurring variations would not have to go through the current authorisation process.

Seeds subjected to more complex manipulation would still have to be submitted for rigorous checks before gaining approval.

The EU argues that New Genomic Techniques or NGTs can increase yields and reduce the use of pesticides.

Ireland became GMO-free in 2018. But the European Commission wants to differentiate NGTs from so-called ‘Frankenstein’ genetically modified crops.

An EU source said the difference was that NGTs involve gene editing within a specific crop without introducing “foreign bodies”.

The European Landowners’ Organisation said NGTs offered the potential to improve “sustainability and facilitating climate change adaptation while ensuring environmental protection, animal health, and consumer safety.”

Greenpeace said a “deregulation of a new strand of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) disregards safety and consumer rights”.

Organic farmers will not be able to use NGT seeds and plants because it would go against “the philosophy of organic farming. I think it is right that it’s excluded”, said the European Commission’s Executive Vice President, Frans Timmermans, this afternoon.

Asked what would happen if NGT seed matter blew across into organic fields, a senior EU official admitted that in the case of unregulated NGTs, it would be up to farmers to ‘voluntarily’ take procautions.

More complex NGTs would be subjected to rules of “mandatory coexistance” rules, she added.

The proposals will have to be approved by EU ministers and the European Parliament before the changes become law.