Europe to review GM maize

The European Union may allow a new type of genetically-modified (GMO) maize and its ministers will vote later today on whether to permit its cultivation.

The new insect-resistant maize has been developed by DuPont and Dow Chemical and it is to be considered for approval by the EU’s General Affairs Council today.

On the 26 September 2013, the General Court of the EU delivered a ruling finding that the Commission failed to act on a GMO cultivation request, which had been submitted 12 years ago in 2001.

In line with this ruling, the Commission acted by referring the cultivation request to the Council of Ministers in November. It is now up to the ministers to take a position by qualified majority on this request and a vote is due to take place today.

The European Food Safety Agency had already submitted a positive opinion on this request in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2012, in all six positive opinions.

The 2001 request falls under the “old” pre-Lisbon comitology procedure, which means that if the council is not able to muster a qualified majority, either for or against the authorisation, then the Commission is obliged by law to grant the authorisation.

Speaking on the matter Health Commissioner, Tonio Borg said: “Duty bound to comply with the ruling of the Court, the Commission has decided to send a draft decision of authorisation of the maize 1507 to the Council. Tomorrow the General Affairs Council will debate and vote on a Council proposal to authorise the GM maize variety 1507 and Ministers will be invited to take a position on this authorisation request.

He continued: “The Court’s decision on maize 1507 confirms the urgency of re-launching discussions on the cultivation proposal made by the Commission back in 2010. This proposal would give member states more freedom to choose whether or not to restrict or prohibit GMO cultivation on their territory on grounds other than those relating to risks to health and the environment.”

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