ST. LOUIS -- Monsanto Company announced Friday that experts at the European Food Safety Authority issued a favorable scientific opinion on Monsanto's Roundup Ready 2 corn product for cultivation and reconfirmed the safety of its YieldGard insect-protected corn trait.

"These announcements from the European Union demonstrate a strong commitment to science-based decision-making to allow farmers to choose biotech crops for their farms," said Jerry Hjelle, regulatory lead for Monsanto. "These are critical steps forward in affirming the safety and benefits of biotech crops."

EU underscores safety of YieldGard insect-protected corn

The company welcomed the news that the European Food Safety Authority has once again underscored the safety of YieldGard insect-protected corn.

In its opinion, EFSA confirmed that the product, also known as MON 810, is safe for cultivation, animal feed and human consumption.

The in-depth safety review of the YieldGard insect-protected corn borer technology, which protects corn plants from the devastating effects of the European corn borer insect, is required every 10 years. The original review and approval of MON 810 in the European Union occurred in 1998. The extensive scientific review considered all of the new safety studies conducted since then.

"Millions of farmers across the globe have been cultivating YieldGard for well over a decade, and its safety and benefits have been proven time and again," said Dusty Post, global corn technology lead for Monsanto. "The technology not only helps to provide superior grain yields to farmers, but assists in dramatically reducing or eliminating outright the need for pesticide applications to control the corn borer pest."

YieldGard works by enabling corn plants to produce a protein called Cry1Ab which comes from a naturally-occurring bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly known as Bt. When the corn borer pest attacks and eats a portion of the plant, the protein then adheres to the gut of the insect and causes it to stop feeding. Prior to the discovery of YieldGard technology, corn borers were commonly controlled by applying insecticide over the crop.

In 2008, farmers in seven EU Member States planted YieldGard corn borer technology on the more than 107,000 hectares, or more than 264,000 acres. Around the world, farmers use the technology to protect on-farm yields on more than 22 million hectares or more than 50 million acres annually.

Following the positive opinion from EFSA, the European Commission is now required to propose renewal of the existing MON 810 approval for cultivation and all other uses, as for conventional maize, so that European farmers can continue to have access to MON 810 hybrids in the future. This proposal will be considered by the Regulatory Committee, comprising representatives of all 27 EU Member States.

Completion of the renewal process is also a condition for the lifting of Member State bans on the cultivation of the MON 810 in countries including France and Germany.

EFSA supports Roundup Ready 2 Corn for all uses, including cultivation

Scientists at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also confirmed that herbicide-tolerant Roundup Ready 2 corn is as safe as conventional maize for all uses, including cultivation, across the entire European Union.

The EFSA declaration follows an extensive four-year review of scientific information on Monsanto's Roundup Ready Corn 2 technology, also known as NK603. EFSA, working in conjunction with the 27 EU Member States, reviewed an extensive volume of information on the product's safety, including a comprehensive set of safety studies conducted according to EU and international guidelines, and numerous peer-reviewed and published scientific articles. Following the positive opinion from EFSA, the European Commission can now draft a proposal for approval for consideration by the Commission's Regulatory Committee.

"This step is an exciting milestone for European farmers and an important step forward in the decision-making process around genetically-engineered crops in the European Union," Post said. "For years this technology has been providing valuable economic, agronomic and environmental benefits to millions of farmers throughout the world; it's welcome news."

Corn farmers across the globe use the Roundup Ready technology on more than 30 million hectares (75 m acres) as a highly effective weed management option that helps protect yields.

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world's natural resources such as water and energy.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company.