News last update:6 Aug 2012

Biotech maize blocked in EU

Agriculture ministers from 10 EU countries blocked approval of three genetically modified varieties of maize for use on the European market.

The products had been given the all-clear by the EU's food safety authority, EFSA, which said they would not have adverse effects on health or the environment.

Diplomats said Austria, Malta, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg voted against, while France and Italy abstained, ensuring a deadlock. Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden led the group of biotech crop supporters.

This outcome reflects the continued deep divisions among EU nations over whether biotech crops pose a risk to human or animal health.

The failure to reach agreement means it will be left to the EU's executive commission to approve the three products, which it is expected to do in the coming weeks.

The three varieties blocked come from Pioneer Hi-Bred and Monsanto and are genetically modified to resist the corn rootworm and be tolerant to herbicides.

All three products are meant to be used in food and animal feed production but not used for cultivation in the EU.

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