21st Oct 2021

Brussels okays four GMO products

The European Commission has authorised four genetically modified products for the European market after EU member states failed to decide either for or against the biotech crops.

The GMOs – three types of maize and a sugar beet – are authorised for the next ten years and will be imported for use in food and animal feed, the European Commission confirmed on Wednesday (24 October).

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  • Recent surveys have shown that around 70 percent of Europeans are against GMOs (Photo: EUobserver)

EU member states in September failed to agree by majority on whether or not to authorise the GMOs proposed by the commission for the EU market.

According to EU rules, in that case the commission is empowered to take the final decision on the basis of an assessment from the European Food and Safety Agency (EFSA).

The commission has authorised the GMOs in all such cases so far. "The commission normally stands by its original proposal," a commission spokesman said on Wednesday.

"All of the GMOs received positive safety assessments from EFSA and underwent the full authorisation procedure set out under EU legislation…[and] will be subject to the EU's strict labelling and traceability rules," the commission said in a statement.

There are currently 15 authorised GMO products in the 27-member bloc - including the latest four biotech products- while an authorisation for a genetically modified potato is pending.

European farmers, industrial food and chemical producers have been complaining that the EU's stringent position against GMOs created a disadvantage for them against their foreign competitors.

On the other hand, recent surveys have shown that around 70 percent of Europeans are against GMOs which are seen as unnatural, with some people arguing the effects of genetically modified organisms are not fully known yet.

The EU had a moratorium on allowing GMOs on its market from 2000 to 2004. In 2006, the World Trade Organization ruled that the EU was unfairly blocking GMOs from entering its markets.

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