February 12, 2014
Following Greek chairman, Evangelos Venizelos, request for legal advice, TC1507 corn was allowed through accordingly.
The rules require that "if the Council (of member states) does not take a decision, then the measure has to be adopted by the European Commission", a legal adviser said.
The Commission, the EU's executive arm, was on the spot after a European Court ruled late last year that the company's 2001 request for approval had to be dealt with without further delay.
Cultivation of genetically modified organisms stokes widespread suspicion in the 28-nation EU on health and environmental grounds. GM crops, however, have won repeated safety approvals and several ministers noted that they are imported into the EU in large amounts, and having been fed to animals, had by now entered the human food chain.
The General Affairs Council of ministers had to decide the issue under what is known as "qualified majority voting". This complex system weighs member states according to their size to ensure that it is a majority of the EU's 500 million population which decides an issue, not the simple number of countries for or against.
In this instance, some 19 member states opposed, mustering 210 votes out of a required 260 to block the measure. The UK, Finland, Estonia, Spain and Sweden were in favour but abstentions proved crucial. Germany, the EU's most powerful and largest country with 19 votes, changed its position to abstain from against, thereby taking itself out of the balance.
France and Hungary led the opposition and the arguments, saying ministers would find difficulty in explaining the outcome to the public.