The European Commission announced today that they are proposing new rules for GMO approvals. The new rules would give each of the 27 EU member states the right to grow, restrict or ban biotech crops in their respective countries. The EU Commission would still study health effects of the crops under the current system.
Currently, the only biotech products approved for planting in the EU are potato (BASF’s Amflora) and a Monsanto corn product, MON 810. MON 810 is an insect-protected (B.t.) hybrid called YieldGard which protects the crop against European corn borer. MON 810 was grown in six EU countries in 2009: Spain, Portugal, Romania, Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia. Spain accounts for 80% of the total acreage, which was 94, 750 hectares in 2009. (Information from ISAAA)
Germany grew 3,173 hectares in 2008 but discontinued planting later that year. France grew MON 810 from 1998-2000 and from 2005-2007, but suspended it in 2008. Though both Germany and France discontinued planting, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) called the bans unjustified and stated that:
“No specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health and the environment, was provided that would justify the invocation of a safeguard clause.”
MON 810 is currently banned by Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg.
Monsanto is following these developments closely. EuropaBio, the industry organization in the EU of which Monsanto is a member, has issued a statement. Here is a brief excerpt and a link to the full statement:
We appreciated the vision put forward by the Commission of enabling the EU member states to move forward on the issue of GM crop cultivation at their own pace. Central to this vision must be permitting those member states and their farmers who wish to embrace the benefits of GM crops the freedom to do so.
Here are links to early coverage.
- EU Aims To Give States Greater Freedom On GMOs, Wall Street Journal
- EU Seeks To Clear Way For GM Crops, Agence France Presse
- EU’s Solution To A 12-Year GM Crop Ban: Let Individual States Decide What They Grow, The Guardian (London)
- EU To Let States Rule On GM Crops, BBC News