Europe OKs Two More GM Crops

The European Union (EU) relents and approves two genetically modified (GM) corn varieties, according to the Associated Press (AP).

The EU’s food safety agency approved two genetically modified corn varieties on Nov. 14, putting renewed pressure on EU nations to drop their objections to the use of biotech crops.

According to an AP report, scientists at the Parma, Italy-based European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) gave clearance to a Bt-11 corn seed made by Switzerland’s Syngenta AG and the 1507 corn made by the U.S.-based Pioneer Hi-Bred and Dow Agrosciences.

Both varieties offer resistance to insects, including corn borers and certain butterflies. They were already deemed safe by the agency in 2005, but were resubmitted for testing by the EU Commission in May amid fresh claims by environmental groups that they were a threat to the environment and human health.

The EU agency also said a French ban on another GM corn product, produced by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto Co., was unjustified. The EU granted approval to sell the seeds in the bloc in 2004.

It will now be up to the European Commission to decide whether to issue the companies licenses to sell the products in the 27-nation bloc, according to the AP report. The issue poses a headache for the Commission, which is trying to force reluctant EU governments to drop some national GM crop bans, amid increasing global pressure from Europe’s trade partners.

EU countries are currently debating whether to change the way the bloc decides on granting user licenses to GM crops and seeds. Many member states, including Greece, Austria, Poland and France are hesitant to adopt new crops fearing environmental consequences. Under EU rules member states have to approve new licenses unanimously. If they can’t, the EU’s executive commission makes the decision on behalf of all countries.

(Source: Associated Press)

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