EU commissioner Margot Wallström said this week the European Commission was worried that it might face legal action if it did not try to remove an impasse over new GMO crop approvals. Ms Wallström told journalists it was important to "break the deadlock" over GMOs because "sooner or later we will be taken to court if we don't handle what's on our desks." She did not say whether the threat came from biotechnology companies, EU states which have applied for approvals or outside Europe. The Commission stopped processing applications to market genetically modified plants 18 months ago in response to public unease over the technology. Earlier this year a de facto moratorium on approvals was created after several EU countries said they would refuse to approve new crops until changes agreed by environment ministers to tighten the EU's regulatory framework for GMOs were introduced. However, after two of the companies promised to apply the new standards before they became law, the Commission put forward three applications for approval. Member states are currently assessing whether the offers are enough to allay their concerns, but a loophole in the EU's complex decision-making procedures means that the applications are virtually guaranteed to be approved even if member states maintain their opposition.
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111.
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