European lawmakers rejected a proposal on Tuesday that would have allowed countries to restrict or ban the use of imported GM crops that have secured EU approval.
The Environment Committee of the European Parliament rejected the draft law by 47 votes to three, many arguing that the proposal was unworkable and would lead to the reintroduction of border controls.
The bill was designed to mirror legislation that allows member countries to opt out of using genetically modified crops that have been approved for cultivation in the European Union.
A majority of EU member states this month requested opt-outs for a Monsanto GM maize, the only GM crop approved for cultivation in the EU.
By contrast, more than 60 GM crops are approved for import into the bloc. While such approvals cover consumption by both humans and animals, in practice they are all used as animal feed, most being grades of maize and soybeans.
"A clear majority in the committee does not want to jeopardize the internal market. For us, the existing legislation should remain in place and member states should shoulder their responsibilities and take a decision together," said Environment Committee chair Giovanni La Via.
The whole parliament is set to vote on the draft law on Oct. 28.
EuropaBio, a lobby group that represents the GM industry, welcomed the vote and urged the Commission to withdraw the planned legislation.