EU kickstarts talks on new GMO approvals

GM 1507 maize has been developed for protection against lepidopteran pests. [erfan a. setiawan/Flickr]

The European Commission launched talks with member states today (9 July) to authorise two new GMOs, maize Bt11 and maize 1507, for cultivation in the EU.

The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed met for the first time on Friday to try and get approval for the two new GM varieties.

The new GMOs in question are maize Bt11 and maize 1507. Monsanto’s insect resistant maize MON810 also came up for discussion for renewal of its authorisation.

EU sources told that all varieties had gone through a stringent scientific assessment.

The issue was on the agenda of the Standing Committee for a first discussion today. No vote was held at that meeting with additional discussions planned for the second half of 2016, an EU source told EURACTIV.

15 member states opt out of GMO culture

Fifteen of the 28 EU member states are seeking to keep genetically-modified organisms out of all or part of their territory, as the deadline for opting out of new European legislation on GMO crops nears, the bloc’s executive arm said yesterday (1 October).

A recently adopted directive (2015/412) gives member states more flexibility to decide on the cultivation of genetically modified crops, under certain conditions.

During the authorisation procedure, a member state can ask to amend the geographical scope of the application to ensure that its territory will not be covered by the EU authorisation.

After a GMO has been authorised, a member state may prohibit or restrict the cultivation of the crop based on grounds related amongst other things to environmental or agricultural policy objectives, or other compelling grounds such as town and country-planning, land use, socio-economic impacts, co-existence and public policy.

GM 1507 maize has been developed for protection against specific lepidopteran pests such as the European corn borer. It also contains a gene providing tolerance to the herbicide glufosinate.

Germany opts out of growing GMO crops

Germany has told the European Union it will ban cultivation of crops with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), under new European Union rules allowing member states to opt out of GMO cultivation, a document seen by Reuters showed yesterday (30 September).

GM maize Bt11 is an insect resistant and herbicide tolerant maize under license from Syngenta Seeds.

17 member states have used the “opt-out” clause as regards cultivation of the three varieties for their whole territory. These are Latvia, Greece, France, Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Lithuania, Cyprus, Germany -except for research, Bulgaria, Italy, Denmark, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Malta.

In addition, two member states have used the “opt-out” clause for part of their territory: Belgium – for the Region of Wallonia – and the UK, for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This means that, if authorised on an EU level, the GMOs in question will not be cultivated on their territories.

GMO cultivation in Europe: A decade of legal battles

The European Union has agreed on a new approach to the cultivation of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) which allows member states to ban or restrict GMOs in their territory. The agreement should mark the end of a decade of legal problems, but in the context of ongoing EU-US free trade negotiations, vocal GMO opposition from member states and civil society is unlikely to subside.

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