Vote on new cultivation of genetically engineered maize: no qualified majority

Member States and the EU Commission met in Brussels today

27 January 2017 / Today representatives of the Member States and the EU Commission met to discuss and vote on the cultivation of genetically engineered maize. The EU Commission wants to give new authorisations for the cultivation of genetically engineered maize before the growing season 2017 starts. Three variants of transgenic maize expressing insecticidal toxins, registered as MON810, Maize 1507 and Bt 11, are being considered. Monsanto, DuPont/Pioneer and Syngenta are pushing for the market introduction of the seeds. At today's vote, no decision was reached. According to the EU Commission, a new vote will be held in the so-called "Appeal Committee" in March.

As shown in a new Testbiotech backgrounder, large-scale cultivation of the transgenic plants can result in risks to agro-ecosystems, such as gene flow to teosinte, a wild relative of maize which has been spreading in fields in Spain for several years.

There are two other important issues that were discussed today: One is the request for 90-day feeding studies to assess the health risks of genetically engineered plants. Industry does not want to accept any obligation to perform feeding trials. Testbiotech believes that there are, as yet, no adequate alternatives to long-term feeding studies and these studies are needed to assess, for example, combinatorial effects.

The other important issue concerns the standards applied in assessing environmental risks. The EU Commission is proposing a change to the list of the criteria that need to be assessed. Testbiotech provided a comprehensive analysis showing that the proposals put forward by the EU Commission will need further major revision.

Christoph Then, Tel 00 49 (0) 151 54638040,