11 September 1997
Austria/Luxembourg ordered to lift GM ban
The European Commission (EC) approved draft measures ordering the lifting of Austrian and Luxembourg import bans on genetically modified (GM) maize. It must be ratified by a regulatory committee of member states where a qualified majority is needed if the ban is to go ahead. The decision came after three scientific committees said the maize presented no dangers to health and the environment.
Austria said it would fight the decision in the European Court. Environmental groups condemned the EC decision. The European Parliament will also be outraged. It has previously accused the Commission of putting safety issues second to commercial considerations. The US will be delighted with the ruling.
There are fears that GM crops could increase human resistance to antibiotics.
Greenpeace criticised what it saw as insufficient investigation into whether the gene used in the maize to make it resistant to the corn borer pest would be passed on in the food chain.
European Union rules are due to be introduced in November which will require foods to be labelled if they contain GM maize or soya.