March 2, 2004
EU Oks Monsanto's GM Rapeseed
The European Food Safety Authority has declared a genetically modified rapeseed produced by Monsanto Co. as safe for human and animal consumption.
The decision by EFSA, which advises the European Union Commission on food safety issues, moved the Commission a small step closer to revoking the unofficial ban it placed on genetically-modified foods in 1998.
EFSA said oilseed rape variant GT73, which is engineered to be resistant to herbicides is as safe as conventional oilseed.
The E.U. Commission had asked the EFSA for a scientific evaluation after some countries questioned the validity of previous tests involving rats.
EFSA said its tests have dismissed those fears. "The animal feeding trials reviewed by the panel showed that GT73 oilseed rape is as safe as the conventional one."
"We provided a simple scientific evaluation," said EFSA spokeswoman Anne-Laure Gassin.
In Brussels, Monsanto spokesman Ken McDermott said: "We're happy that Europe is returning to a science-based regulatory system."
But the St. Louis-based biotechnology company's battle is far from over. The E.U.'s 15 member states are yet to vote on allowing import of the product. GT73 is grown in the United States, Australia and Canada. It is allowed for sale in those countries, plus Japan, the Philippines and South Korea. Monsanto has applied for a license only to import, not to cultivate, GT73.