GMOs, Import: Delays in approval of GM corn
EU environment officials recently took a small step
towards authorising the import of a new variety of genetically modified (GM) corn, but the
decision approving the importation of NK603 Roundup Ready© maize into the EU has been
referred to the Council of Ministers, delaying its acceptance.
Although the company producing the maize expressed disappointment at the setback,
environmentalists welcomed it.
The European Union’s Regulatory Committee
failed during its 18 February meeting to obtain the necessary
majority to permit the importing of a new variety of GM maize,
known simply as ‘NK604 Roundup Ready’, which has
been modified to increase its tolerance to a Roundup Ready
Although the application is for import and processing only
– and not for cultivation – committee members
did not reach a positive decision which effectively would
have meant an end to the EU’s 1998 moratorium on importing
The question has now been referred back to the Council of
Ministers for its reconsideration. The Council will have three
months to decide on the issue, failing which the Commission
can adopt the decision to import .
A maze of views
US agrifood giant Monsanto – owner of NK604 –
expressed its disappointment at the delay. “We had hoped
that [the European Food and Safety Agency’s] opinion,
combined with the fact that new regulations covering GM products
are now in place, would have been sufficient to allow a positive
decision to be reached,” said Monsanto’s Brett
Begemann. “We are hopeful that this product should be
approved when [the Council] takes it up for consideration
in the next phase of the regulatory process.”
Environmental groups welcomed the delay saying it gave the
Union more time to test the longer-term effects of GM crops.
“Importing GMOs to the EU, even if only for use in animal
feed and food processing at this stage, overlooks the lack
of knowledge about the health effects of GMOs,” noted
Greenpeace’s Thomas Fertl.
Meanwhile, the UK Environment Minister Margaret Beckett recently
announced her willingness to allow the commercial cultivation
of GM maize by 2005
Source: EU and external sources
Greenpeace press release