EU governments will decide on Friday whether to approve the first genetically modified crops in 19 years, against a background of widespread opposition from farmers and the wider public. 
The European Commission is planning to put the approval of two new GM maize types to a vote, as well as the re-approval of the only GM crop currently permitted for cultivation in the EU.  The vote comes as agri-business corporations seek to strengthen their control on food production with three major mergers in the sector.
Biotech crops play an insignificant role in the EU. They are grown on less than 1% of agricultural land, mainly in Spain and Portugal. Approval of these GM crops would only encourage the biotech industry to push new toxin-producing crops, claims Friends of the Earth Europe.
Mute Schimpf, food campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe said: "GM crops are distracting us from the real debate we need on how we make farming resilient to climate change, save family farms and stop the destruction of nature. Governments have the opportunity to end this debate once and for all by voting down these proposals. It's time to close our countryside to GM crops and move on."
 A GM potato strain was authorised in 2010, but annulled by the EU Court of Justice in 2013 due to procedural mistakes.
The most recent Eurobarometer survey on the issue states that 66% of Europeans are concerned about GM food.
Numerous sources have said that Greece, Poland Austria, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia are set to reject the crops, while France and Sweden are swinging between abstention and rejection.
 The decision concerns GM maize types from Syngenta and Dow-Pioneer (technical names BT11 and 1507) and the renewal of the only GM maize currently allowed (Mon810 from Monsanto). The two new crops are resistant to the highly toxic herbicide produced by Bayer (glufosinate) and harm certain specific maize pests as well as butterflies. The safety checks of these new GM crops are completely flawed; neither the environmental impacts of the herbicide nor the impacts on butterflies were assessed.
Since autumn 2015, 17 member states and four regions have banned the cultivation of the only GM crop so far permitted, Monsanto's Mon810 maize.