EU COMMISSIONERS have granted a licence for the import of Monsanto’s genetically modified oilseed rape GT73 for use in animal feed and for industrial purposes.
This is the third product to be approved under the EU’s new GM approvals process introduced in 2001.
Last year the commission also licensed Syngenta’s NK603 sweet maize – the first approval following a five-year moratorium – and then Monsanto’s MON 863 feed maize.
The decision to licence GT73 followed the refusal of EU environment ministers to do so in late 2004, even though it has been declared as safe as conventional rapeseed by the European Food Safety Authority.
The commission was therefore obliged to approve the product, which is resistant to the herbicide glyphosate.
The GM rape may not be used in the human food chain or for cultivation and will also be subject to strict new labelling and traceability rules.
The licence will be valid for 10 years and will be subject to post-marketing monitoring.
It is also granted on the understanding that Monsanto will take any measures necessary to deal with accidental spillage of GT73 seed during transportation, handling or storage.
The decision to grant a licence has been condemned by environmental lobby group Friends of the Earth, which points out that a majority of member states rejected the application when it was considered by the EU’s environment council.
In particular it says that questions about increases in liver weights in rats fed the GM rape have not been answered.
“Member states are left with no choice but to impose national bans on this GM seed,” said GMO co-ordinator Helen Holder.