Friday

23rd Jun 2017

EU commission passes the buck on GM maize

The European Commission says it will be up to member states to decide whether to cultivate a genetically modified (GM) crop known as Pioneer 1507 maize.

The announcement, made in Brussels by EU commissioner for health Tonio Borg on Wednesday (6 November), followed a European Court ruling in mid-September that Pioneer's 2001 request for permission to cultivate the insect-resistant crop must be dealt with.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • European corn borer moth: Pioneer has made six requests for its bug-resistant crop since 2001 (Photo: ajmatthehiddenhouse)

“In the coming months, ministers will be invited to take a position on this authorisation request,” said Borg.

The commission will be obliged by law to grant authorisation unless member states approve or reject the measure in a qualified majority vote.

The Union’s 28 environment ministers are set to vote on the matter on 13 December.

AFP reports that France, along with 12 other member states, oppose GM cultivation in Europe, but the UK is one of its six supporters.

Pioneer, part of US chemicals firm DuPont, has made repeated requests to allow the genetically modified crop into Europe's single market.

Maize 1507 was developed to resist moths, such as the European corn borer, and is already authorised in the EU as a food and animal feed component, but not for cultivation.

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, has approved each of the company's six previous requests since 2001, but it has also noted that a toxin, glufosinate, released by 1507 is dangerous to some harmless butterflies and moths.

For its part, the environmental lobby group Greenpeace says that EFSA did not carry out legally required safety testing on glufosinate.

Despite the commission's laissez faire decision on Pioneer, glufosinate has been earmarked for an EU-wide phase out in 2017 due to its toxicity.

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said in a statement out on Wednesday that the commission is ducking its responsibility.

He said that if 1507 gets the go-ahead, it "will encourage rampant use of a herbicide so toxic that it is being phased out in Europe."

He noted that the last GM crop authorised for cultivation in the EU was an antibiotic GM potato, made by German firm Basf, which got the green light in 2010.

“The crop was a commercial failure and was withdrawn after just two years,” Greenpeace's website says.

GM maize cultivation has existed in Europe since 1998, when the EU authorised MON 810 for commercial cultivation, which also protect crops against the European corn borer.

MON 810, made by US firm Monsanto, represents about 1.35 percent of the 9.5 million hectares of maize grown in the EU and is found mostly in Spain.

Focus

MEPs agree cap on crop-based biofuels

The EU parliament has capped the amount of crop-based biofuels that can be used to reach EU energy targets amid environmental fears.

US leaves Paris climate deal

Trump said Paris deal “punishes the United States”, even though treaty leaves it up to nations to determine own climate contribution.

Column / Crude World

Nord Stream 2: The elephant in the room

The European Commission should provide a thorough impact assessment of Nord Stream 2, a project that appears to go against all of its Energy Union objectives.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel and Macron hold symbolic joint press conference
  2. Juncker has 'no' clear idea of kind of Brexit UK wants
  3. Belgian PM calls May's proposal on EU citizens 'vague'
  4. UK lacks support of EU countries in UN vote
  5. Spain to command anti-smuggler Mediterranean force
  6. Estonia confirms opposition to Nord Stream 2 pipeline
  7. Ireland and Denmark outside EU military plan
  8. EU leaders renew vows to uphold Paris climate deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  2. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  3. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  4. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  5. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances
  6. EPSUAfter 9 Years of Austerity Europe's Public Sector Workers Deserve a Pay Rise!
  7. Dialogue PlatformGlobalised Religions and the Dialogue Imperative. Join the Debate!
  8. UNICEFEU Trust Fund Contribution to UNICEF's Syria Crisis Response Reaches Nearly €200 Million
  9. EUSEW17Bringing Buildings Into the Circular Economy. Discuss at EU Sustainable Energy Week
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan an Ideal Body Weight Lead to Premature Death?
  11. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Charges: What Does It Entail?
  12. World VisionWorld Refugee Day, a Dark Reminder of the Reality of Children on the Move

Latest News

  1. New Irish PM praises unscripted nature of EU summits
  2. EU extends sanctions on Russia
  3. UK's universities set 'Brexit wish list'
  4. Decision on post-Brexit home for EU agencies postponed
  5. May's offer on citizens’ rights dismissed as ‘pathetic’
  6. 'Historic' defence plan gets launch date at EU summit
  7. EU pressures firms to tackle online terrorism
  8. Lack of eligible candidates dogs EU relocation scheme