Council fails to reach majority in favour of biotech sweet corn d espite new traceability and labelling rules


Today, the agriculture Council of Ministers failed to reach a qualified majority vote to approve a genetically modified sweet corn (Bt-11) for food use in the European Union; it is already approved in other parts of the world. This sweet corn is genetically modified to protect itself from corn borer insect damage (1).

"We are disappointed that the Council failed to approve the sweet corn but now look to the EU Commission to move forward with a decision to approve this product," says Johan Vanhemelrijck, Secretary General of EuropaBio, the European association for bioindustries. "The file was submitted in 1998 and the EU Scientific Committee on Food has declared Bt-11 as safe as its conventional counterparts."

In 1998, some Member States said they would not approve any new products until new laws on traceability and labelling were in place. These rules came into force in the EU on 18th April. "We are disappointed that some Member States have not kept their side of the agreement despite the fact that all the conditions have been met," says Johan Vanhemelrijck.

The GM sweet corn is approved for food use in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland and the United States and was first approved in United States and Canada in 1996.

The EU's Scientific Committee on Food has acknowledged the safety of genetically enhanced Bt-11 sweet corn. This reflects the opinion of several other regulatory authorities worldwide, and the experience in countries in which Bt sweet corn is already approved.

The application will now be passed back to the EU Commission which is expected to approve it.

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