EU scientists back new GM maize variety

Monsanto "round-up ready" crop declared safe by Commission's scientific committee on plants

EU scientific advisory committee has declared safe another variety of genetically modified maize, increasing the backlog of GM products awaiting political endorsement. The scientific thumbs-up is the second given to an application for EU GMO marketing consent since a "de facto moratorium" agreed last year paralysed the approvals process (ENDS Daily 25 July 1999). All applications must receive positive opinions from the scientific committee on plants (SCP) to proceed further along the EU approvals process.

In its opinion released yesterday, the committee said there was no evidence that the maize variety, engineered by biotechnology firm Monsanto to be tolerant to its "Round-up" glyphosate herbicide, would damage human health or the environment. The assessment brings to 10 the number of applications cleared as safe by EU scientists but awaiting a regulatory decision. A further three are awaiting the SCP's opinion.

Six months ago, EU member states delayed for a second time a decision on a European Commission proposal to approve three varieties already endorsed by the SCP (ENDS Daily 9 March). In July they reiterated their commitment to continued blockage of all approvals (ENDS Daily 17 July). As the freeze has continued the European Commission has become increasingly worried that the EU could face legal challenges from biotechnology firms (ENDS Daily 13 July).

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; SCP, tel: +32 2 295 7705, and its opinion on GM maize GA21.

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