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Page last update: 25/12/2008

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 herbicide.
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 GM foods.
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
More Information:
Commission press release
Monsanto press release
Greenpeace press release

 

 

Last update: 25 December 2008 | Top