lunes, diciembre 13, 2004

Europe Still Resisting GMOs

The authorisation of Bt 11 sweet maize for food use in May this year marked the end of Europe’s de facto moratorium on GM approvals. However, there is by no means consensus on GMOs in Europe.

Lim Li Ching explains how approvals can still occur despite objections

On 29 November 2004, an EU regulatory committee once again failed to reach a qualified majority to support a proposal by the European Commission for the import of Monsanto’s GM maize (MON863 and MON863 x MON810 hybrids). The Scientific Panel on GMOs of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had earlier this year pronounced MON863 “safe”. Nonetheless, the maize has been controversial, as concerns have been raised regarding the results of a feeding study that showed suspected adverse effects in the blood and kidneys of rats fed the GM maize. These effects were unobserved in rats fed conventional maize.

Earlier, on 20 November, the committee postponed a formal vote on Monsanto’s application, to seek clarification and more information. At the Commission’s request, EFSA’s GMO Panel reviewed an evaluation report on MON863 that was submitted by Germany, as well as retrospectively evaluated some of the scientific data that were causing concern. On 20 October, the GMO panel issued a statement saying, “there is no evidence… that changes the conclusions already reached by the GMO Panel earlier this year”. Despite the reassurances, only eight countries (133 votes) voted in favour of approving MON 863, while 12 countries (123 votes) voted against and five abstained (65 votes). The Council of Environment Ministers must now decide on the proposal to approve MON863, within three months.

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