January 6, 2014


UK to intervene in Monsanto's GM soy case


The British government will step in on the case against the European Commission's approval of the Intacta genetically modified (GM) soy variety developed by Monsanto at the European Court of Justice.


The soy variety developed by Monsanto under its Roundup brand expresses an insecticidal protein and is resistant to glyphosate herbicides.


In a written parliamentary answer, Earl Howe, under-secretary of state, department of health, said, "The United Kingdom has a strong interest in the science-based system underpinning genetically modified product applications and so has applied to intervene in this case, which concerns the authorisation of GM food and feed."


A coalition of environmental groups brought the case against the European Commission in March last year, claiming that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had not carried out all the safety assessments required by law before backing the safety of the company's genetically modified (GM) Intacta soybeans for use in food and feed. The European Commission then approved the use of the stacked soy variety in the European Union.


The environmental groups that filed the case include The European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), the Society for Ecological Research, the foundation Manfred-Hermsen-Stiftung for Nature Conservation and Environmental Protection, the Foundation on Future Farming, the non-profit organisation Sambucus and Testbiotech.


Reasons given to the court for challenging the EFSA decision are based on the conclusion that this soybean can be regarded as equivalent with soybeans from conventional breeding; the lack of investigation of combinatorial effects; flawed examination of allergenic risks; and lack of obligation for monitoring health effects at the stage of consumption.


In July, Monsanto said it would withdraw pending applications for the cultivation of four genetically modified crops in the EU. However, the EU still imports millions of tonnes of GM crops for use in animal feed.