EU States Deadlocked on Genetically Modified Maize Approvals

10.06.2013 -

European Union governments failed to agree on Monday whether to approve three genetically modified maize varieties for use in food and feed, the European Commission said.

The failure of the bloc's standing committee on food chain and animal health to reach a majority either for or against means the decisions will pass to an appeal committee over the coming weeks, a spokesman for the Commission said.

If the appeal committee is also unable to reach agreement, the Commission will be free to grant EU marketing approval.

Two of the applications are for maize varieties containing multiple or "stacked" gene traits, designed to protect the growing plants from multiple insect pests and make them herbicide-tolerant. Both products were developed jointly by Monsanto and Dow Chemical.

Neither variety is approved for cultivation in Europe. The authorisation would cover the use of imports in food and feed products sold in Europe, although there is little or no demand for genetically modified food among EU consumers.

The third approval covers the pollen of Monsanto's insect-resistant MON810 maize, the only genetically modified crop currently grown commercially in Europe.

The bid for approval followed a ruling by the Europe's highest court in 2011 that even small traces of the pollen in honey must receive EU authorisation before the product can be sold.

Five of the 27 European Union member states grew MON810 maize on 129,000 hectares in 2012, data from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) showed. Spain was the top producer, followed by Portugal, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania.