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EU to Debate Approving Two New GMO Maizes Next Week

Date: 16-Sep-05
Country: BELGIUM
Author: Jeremy Smith

Little progress is expected in either debate that would tip the balance of the EU's "pro" and "anti" camps, they said. This means that under EU law, the European Commission would eventually end up issuing a rubberstamp approval for both GMOs.

Despite last year's lifting of an effective biotech moratorium by a legal default procedure, EU countries have not managed to agree by themselves on a GMO approval since 1998.

The first maize up for debate, by a panel of EU-25 environment experts on Monday, is a hybrid GMO made by US biotech giant Monsanto for use in industrial processing.

This is a cross between two distinct maize types known as MON 863, which can provide plant protection against certain pests, specifically corn rootworm, and MON 810, which is resistant to other pests such as caterpillars and certain worms.

Producing hybrid maize involves making separate lines that are then crossed to make a hybrid seed, allowing for desirable traits to be selected to enhance agricultural performance.

The second GMO maize will be discussed by EU farm ministers on Tuesday after a inconclusive vote by environment experts in May that led to the dossier being escalated to ministers.

Very little has changed in voting positions since then.

"I don't expect any changes in those positions. I expect the Council (of EU ministers) to reach its non-decision very quickly," a senior British official representing the current EU presidency told a news briefing.

That maize, known by its code number 1507, is jointly made by Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a subsidiary of DuPont Co., and Dow AgroSciences unit Mycogen Seeds. Their application is for import and processing for animal feed use.

In Europe, consumers have been far more reluctant than in the US to accept GMO products, often dubbed as "Frankenstein foods", while manufacturers of GMO foods insist they are safe.

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