EU executive set to back new GM crop, member states divided

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

European Union ministers hit deadlock on Tuesday on whether to let a new strain of genetically modified (GM) corn be grown on EU soil for human consumption, clearing the way for the bloc's executive arm to approve the crop automatically.

European Commission endorsement of insect-resistant Pioneer 1507, developed jointly by DuPont and Dow Chemical, would end a decade-long debate and break Monsanto's monopoly in Europe's small market for GMO crops.

Although widely grown in the Americas and Asia, GM crops are generally unpopular in Europe, where public opposition is strong and environmentalists have raised concerns about the impact on biodiversity.

On Tuesday, ministers and diplomats from 19 of the 28 EU countries opposed approval, but under the bloc's weighted voting system, that was not enough to reject the crop.

Instead, the Commission is now legally obliged to approve it, European Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said. He said he could not specify when, although EU rules state the Commission must decide "without undue delay."

He said extensive research had shown the crop, whose developers first applied for authorization in 2001, was safe.

DuPont Pioneer said in a statement that the EU had "a legal obligation to itself, to its farmers and scientists and to its trade partners" to support the approval of safe new agricultural products.

EU authorities have only ever approved two other GMO crops for commercial cultivation: a corn type and a potato. The potato was later blocked by a court.

Of the most prominent member states, France has vehemently opposed the new GM corn. Britain has backed it, arguing that Europe risked becoming "the museum of world farming." Germany said last week it would abstain.

France warned the EU was in danger of stoking euroscepticism ahead of European Parliament elections in May by granting approval, based on arcane legal rules, in the face of staunch opposition.

"For us it's an incomprehensible decision because the majority of EU member states do not want genetically modified cprm," Thierry Repentin, France's Europe minister, said.

Greenpeace's EU agriculture policy director, Marco Contiero, said: "Approval by the Commission would be irresponsible because of the environmental risk, untenable because of widespread political and public opposition, and legally compromised because the Commission has forced it through without the required consultation."

Speaking in support of the new corn variety, Spain said its farmers needed to be able to compete with those in non-EU nations that can grow GM produce, while Britain said there was a clear scientific case for GM crops.

With a view to accommodating all sides of the debate, Borg said the Commission would revive a separate proposal on GM cultivation that would allow individual member states to ban GM crops if they wished, while others could allow them.

Member states have in the past failed to agree on that proposal too, but Borg said he was "cautiously optimistic" countries could set aside their differences.

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Comments (0) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

Tube Series (TS) Conveyors

USC’s Tube Series Conveyors combine the gentleness of the signature Seed Series with the traditional stability of a tube-style conveyor, ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form