Monday

5th Dec 2016

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

A world without waste

A garbage crisis in Naples, Italy, gave birth to the "zero waste" movement, but is the rest of Europe brave enough to change the way it thinks about trash?

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. CESIElects Leaders and Sets Safety & Health at Work and Gender Equality Among the Guidelines For Next Term
  2. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  3. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  4. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  5. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  6. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  7. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  8. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  9. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  10. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  12. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security