EU lifts six-year ban on GM corn
Brusselsm, May 16:
The EU is to approve the sale of a brand of genetically modified corn for human consumption - ending a six-year long ban that was challenged by the US. Next week’s landmark ruling by the European commission will allow the insect and herbicide-resistant Swiss-made product to be sold, even though consumer resistance remains powerful. But growing Syngenta Bt-11 maize in the EU’s 25 member states will remain illegal for the moment. Under new EU rules, canned vegetables have to be clearly labelled as having been harvested from a GM plant, the commission’s chief spokesman, Reijo Kemppinen, said on Friday.
Since many supermarket chains require suppliers to guarantee that their products are GM-free, the product is unlikely to be a huge success. The biotech industry trade group, EuropaBio, welcomed the announcement, but conceded that the corn was unlikely to be on sale soon. The decision was condemned by Friends of the Earth, the environmental group. “Scientists cannot agree over the sweetcorn’s safety and the public does not want it,” a spokesman said. Polls shows some 70 per cent of the European public remains opposed to GM foods. Critics say Bt-11 has been modified to produce a toxin that is naturally found only in bacteria and that the scientific assessment was undertaken according to outdated rules.
The decision to lift the ban follows the failure of EU governments to agree on the first application submitted under the new labelling rules, which came into effect in April.