European ministers will decide whether to approve the cultivation of variety of genetically modified maize, after the European Commission was legally obliged to pass on the 12-year-old request.

Commission backs GMO crop cultivation approval

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The EU Commission passed the decision on to the European Council of Ministers yesterday (6 November) after the EU General Court ruled last month that it had failed to act on a 2001 request by European ministers to cultivate the GM maize, Pioneer-DuPont’s 1507.

The Commission will be legally obliged to approve the cultivation of the crop if ministers fail to reach a majority for or against the decision, as the request came before the 2007 revision of EU decision-making procedures.

Since that date, EU countries opposed to GMO crops have been able to use a safeguard clause to prevent their cultivation.

European Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said: “Duty bound to comply with the ruling of the Court, the Commission has decided today to send a draft decision of authorisation of the maize 1507 to the Council.”

Borg said the delay showed the need for better EU-wide rules governing the cultivation of GM crops. “The Court's decision on maize 1507 confirms the urgency of reconciling strict and predictable European authorisation rules for GMO cultivation, with fair consideration of national contexts.”

He called for dialogue between the 28-country bloc’s three governing bodies, the Commission, Parliament and Council, to reach a firm decision on the maize.

Pioneer-DuPont developed 1507 to produce maize resistant to specific harmful moth larvae, such as the European corn borer.

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) had cleared the crop for human and animal consumption six times.