(CN) – European Union member states must reveal the locations of fields containing genetically modified plants, Europe’s highest court ruled, even if local authorities fear the information could incite public disorder.
“The information relating to the location of the release can in no case be kept confidential,” the court ruled, and the concern for public disorder “cannot constitute reasons capable of restricting access to the information.”
French citizen Pierre Azelvandre asked local authorities in Alsace to tell him where genetically modified plants had been planted. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are plants or animals whose genes have been artificially altered to give them an advantage, such as better resistance to disease.
Local authorities refused to tell Azelvandre where the GMOs had been released, citing the privacy and safety of the farmers who might face backlash from opponents of genetic modification.
But the court said the European Council considered those risks when it established a transparent notification system for the release of GMOs. Anyone wishing to release GMOs must submit a written explanation of the type of organism that will be released, the location and size of release sites, a description of the site’s ecosystem and other information about the release.
Except for rare exemptions, this notification data is open to the public, the court concluded.