One farmer in Italy wanted to grow corn that produced higher yields and used fewer chemicals. The country’s government said he wasn’t allowed to, because the crops he wanted to grow were genetically engineered.
That farmer, Giorgio Fidenato, defied the law and was prosecuted. Fidenato — and science — won out in the end.
The European Court of Justice ruled this week that a European Union member state (such as Italy) has no right to ban genetically engineered crops given that there is no scientific reason for doing so, according to reporting from The Associated Press. The ruling in favor of Fidenato comes in a nation that has strongly opposed the use of genetic engineering in crops, amid fears that there may be health consequences and that the process is simply “less natural.”
According to the AP, Fidenato’s case dates to 2013, when Italy asked the European Commission to adopt emergency measures prohibiting the planting of Monsanto-produced seeds, which Italian scientific studies claimed were dangerous. The commission, however, disputed those studies and cited a scientific opinion by the European Food Safety Authority that there was “no new science-based evidence” that the seeds could be a hazard. Still, Italy banned the seeds, and Fidenato went ahead planting them anyway.
Fidenato, who first learned the benefits of genetic engineering during a visit to the U.S. in the 1990s, was, of course, happy with the latest ruling.