EU Parliament: Majority against further approvals for import of genetically engineered plants

Gaps in European Food Safety Authority EFSA risk assessment exposed

7. July 2021

7 July 2021 / The EU Parliament has again voted with a large majority against further approvals for the import of genetically engineered plants. The resolutions concern genetically engineered maize and soybeans that are resistant to insecticides and several herbicides, such as glyphosate and glufosinate. The resolutions also heavily criticise deficiencies in European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) risk assessment.

Already in April, when the EU Parliament signed off the EFSA 2019 budget, it criticised the risk assessment as insufficient in respect to genetically engineered plants. It explicitly highlighted three problems: “whereas these gaps include, inter alia, lack of testing of cocktail effects stemming from herbicide residues, Bacillus thuringiensis (‘Bt’) toxins and plant constituents, the impact of increased rate of sprayings of the complementary herbicides on the overall safety of the GM plant as well as a lack of adequate toxicity testing of Bt proteins.”

Gaps in risk assessment were also among the reasons why the EU Parliament yesterday adopted the resolutions against further imports. Amongst others, they looked at genetically engineered crops produced by Corteva (previously DowDuPont) which inherit several transgenes (soybean: DAS-81419-2 × DAS-44406-6; maize: 1507 × MIR162 × MON810 × NK603). EFSA declared the harvest of these plants to be safe for use in food and feed. However, in its risk assessment, EFSA ignored the deficiencies exposed by the EU Parliament in its recent and previous resolutions.

The EU Parliament has adopted a total of 23 resolutions against import approvals for transgenic plants during this legislative period. Whether the EU Commission will actually approve the import applications remains to be seen.

In parallel, the EU Commission is also preparing a reaction to a Testbiotech request for internal revision of import approvals for GE plants issued at the beginning of this year. Based on the outcome of a research project conducted over several years called RAGES, Testbiotech is demanding a re-assessment of the approvals. The EU Commission is expected to respond in July.

Christoph Then,, Tel + 49 (0) 151 54638040

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