Europe slowing down GM crop trials

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Three new reports out of Europe demonstrate the EU is slowind down its approval process and field trials for genetically modified crops.

In one report, fewer field trials of GM crops are being conducted in Europe, except for Spain, which is allowing large corporations to test several crops. The difficult environment for research and approval of GM crops has caused scientists and companies to take different tracks to approval.

In 2012, only 41 new applications have been submitted for releasing a GM crop. In 2009, there were more than 100 new applications. Nearly 30 of the applications in 2012 are from Spain. The rest are from Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.

Applications for approval include crops such as a South African sweet corn that contains more vitamin A, C and E, a transgenic barley plants that need less nitrogen fertilizer, poplar trees for more biomass, transgenic flax, GM corn, tobacco and cisgenic plants.

In Italy, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service reports that the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) has drafted preliminary conclusions in Pioneer Hi-Bred Italy’s case against the Italian Ministry of Agriculture’s (ITMinAg) requirement for separate and additional Ministry approval to plant EU-approved GM corn in and to comply with coexistence regulations. After failing to solve the case, the Italian court appealed to the ECJ, which on April 26, 2012, issued its conclusions that EU-approval crops may not be subjected to national authorization procedures.

According to the Italian decree 212/2001, the ITMinAg must authorize the cultivation of EU-approved GM crops. An important factor in this authorization is that the cultivation complies with established coexistence regulations. However, thus far, neither the central government nor the Regions have established coexistence legislation. Therefore, when Pioneer Hi-Bred Italy requested authorization for the cultivation of EU-approved GM corn in 2008, the ITMinAg refused due to the absence of coexistence rules. Pioneer appealed to the Italian administrative justice, which passed it to the European Court of Justice in January 2011 due to a jurisdiction dispute. Pioneer argues the ITMinAg decree conflicts with EU legislative framework.

As of June 1, the European Association of BioIndustries released a report listing the status of GM crop applications in the decision making phase of the EU approval process and demonstrates that for the processing of GM applications through the decision making system, the timelines foreseen in EU legislation are regularly exceeded. To view the products awaiting approval, click here.

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