BRUSSELS IS poised to approve another GM crop for import and use in the EU – the glyphosate resistant oilseed rape GT73 produced by Monsanto.
Environment ministers meeting in Brussels this week (w/e Dec 24) were asked to licence the GM, but failed to muster enough votes to either accept or reject it.
This is despite the fact that GT73 was given a clean bill of health by the European Food Safety Authority in March 2004.
The application therefore passes back to the commission, which has the power to approve the new product under its own competence.
This is expected to be done early in the new year.
This is the same procedure as applied to Syngenta‘s Bt11 sweet maize, which was the first to be approved by the commission in May of this year, so ending the five-year moratorium on GMs.
A similar chain of events led to the licensing for import and use of Monsanto‘s NK603 maize for animal feed in June and for human consumption in October.
So far, no new licences have been granted for cultivation of GMs in the EU since the moratorium was lifted.
The effective blocking by environment ministers of the GT73 oilseed rape this week (w/e Dec 24) was applauded by green lobby group Friends of the Earth.
It says that an indicative vote revealed 13 member states to be against, six in favour, with six abstaining.
“Today‘s vote not only indicates that member states do not fully support EFSA opinions, but also that Europe remains deeply divided over the safety of genetically modified food,” said a statement.
FOE has particular concerns about increased liver weights in rats fed GT73 rape meal, and also about accidental spillage of oilseeds getting into the environment.
But biotech group EuropaBio points out that GT73 has been grown in Canada since 1996 without any ill effects, and notes that oil derived from GT73 is already approved in the EU.