BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union moved closer to approving
the cultivation of a second genetically modified corn on the continent despite
years of objections by environmental groups and widespread apprehension about
GMO food among European consumers.
The recent approval by the EU Commission, the bloc’s
executive arm, now sends the plan to approve DuPont-Pioneer Maize 1507 to the
EU’s 28 member nations for consideration — and could lead to a decision on the
issue within months.
EU member states have sharply diverging views on the
cultivation of genetically modified organisms — commonly known as GMOs — and
decisions often have been deadlocked for years. A continued stalemate over the
next few months would throw the issue back to the commission, which could then
make the decision itself.
Since DuPont Pioneer had first applied for approval to
commercialize the cultivation in Europe 12 years ago, it welcomed the latest
“1507 maize meets all EU regulatory requirements and should
be approved for cultivation without further delay,” the company said in a
Environmental groups sharply criticized the EU Commission
for opening the door to further GMO cultivation in Europe.
“Instead of banning this toxic maize (corn) and protecting
both consumers and the environment, the European Commission has buckled once
again to industry pressure,” said Mute Schimpf of Friends of the Earth Europe.
It said the GMO corn was highly toxic and would harm the
delicate habitat of butterflies and moths.
DuPont Pioneer, however, insists that its 1507 corn is grown
throughout the world and had received no less that seven positive safety reports
from the EU.
The EU has strict guidelines on authorizing and informing
consumers about foods containing GMOs — a policy that has caused problems for
producers of genetically modified seeds such as the U.S.-based Monsanto Co.,
which are used to less stringent rules around the world.
At the moment, Monsanto’s MON 810 corn is the only GMO farm
product cultivated in the EU, and even then, it only represents 1.35 percent of
the EU’s corn cultivation.
That contrasts sharply with the widespread use of GMOs in
North and South America.
The European Commission also proposed to change the way that
GMOs could be introduced in Europe, allowing individual member states to reject
their cultivation based on a series of social or political grounds even if it
has been approved throughout the EU on a scientific basis.
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