November 4, 2013


Second genetically modified corn crop set for EU approval



A second genetically-modified (GM) corn crop may be authorised in the EU after the European Court of Justice found there had been an unwarranted delay in examining the application.
The 12-year-old filing for permission to cultivate Dow-Pioneer's TC1507 corn is returning as a key topic among bloc environment ministers during their next meeting on December 13, 2013.


Ecologists say the crop exudes toxic chemicals which harm insect pests, thus removing the need for farmers to buy chemical pesticides but creating knock-on risks for bees and ecological stability.


However, the European Commission says that experts from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have given it a clean bill of health, hence the judicially-ordered return to consideration of its authorisation for use.


Currently, only Monsanto's MON810 corn is allowed to be grown in Europe, albeit in small quantities in Spain and Portugal. A second permitted crop, BASF's Amflora potatoes, has been abandoned by its makers.


Twenty-eight EU ministers will have to decide whether to approve or reject the application. A failure to reach a conclusion would force the Commission to make the decision.


According to sources, the Commission would likely approve due to the EFSA findings and the threat of European Court fines.


According to Greenpeace campaigners, the Court decision criticises the procedures followed, but does not prevent the Commission from taking a definitive stand based on alternative scientific reports.


However, the Commission says that it is trapped by a positive recommendation as the Court requires that it follow rules in force when the application was submitted, which obliges the EU executive to follow the EFSA's recommendation in the absence of a clear majority among states.


Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg and Romania have each invoked safeguard measures to block MON810 cultivation on their territories.


However, in August, France's Council of State court ruled that the French moratorium, going back to March 2012, failed to uphold EU law. President Francois Hollande subsequently said that the ban would remain.

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