Europe may still approve bioengineered corn variety

by Jeff Gelski
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MANNO, SWITZERLAND — DuPont Pioneer expects the European Commission to approve its bioengineered maize/corn variety 1507 even though 19 of 28 European Union countries voted against it on Feb. 11. The vote total was not enough to block potential authorization by the European Commission.

“DuPont Pioneer notes the outcome of the General Affairs Council vote on the approval of 1507 maize for cultivation in the European Union,” said József Máté, communications manager – Europe for DuPont Pioneer and based in Manno. “We are now confident that the European Commission, based on the seven positive safety opinions published by the (European Food Safety Authority), will adopt the decision for approval again as required under E.U. law. 1507 maize meets all E.U. regulatory requirements and should be approved for cultivation without further delay.

“The European Union has a legal obligation to itself, to its farmers and scientists, and to its trade partners to follow the revised E.U. biotech legislation and support the approval of safe agricultural biotechnology products in the European Union.”

Currently one bioengineered maize/corn variety, MON 810, is cultivated commercially in the European Union. It represents 1.35% of the 9.5 million hectares (or more than 23 million acres) of maize cultivated in the European Union.

Pioneer originally applied for authorization of the 1507 variety in 2001.

Greenpeace opposes approval of the 1507 variety because Greenpeace believes it may have adverse effects on butterflies and moths. Nineteen countries voted against approval on Feb. 11, according to Greenpeace. They included France, Italy, Hungary, Greece, Romania, Poland, The Netherlands, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia. Voting in favor were five countries: Spain, the United Kingdom, Finland, Estonia and Sweden. Four abstentions were Germany, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Belgium.

“The commission cannot ignore the scientific, political and legal concerns voiced by a large majority of countries, by two-thirds of the European Parliament and supported by most E.U. citizens,” said Marco Contiero, Greenpeace E.U. agriculture policy director. “The European Court of Justice would very likely overturn an authorization of this G.M. maize in a legal challenge, as it did with the latest commission approval of the Amflora G.M. potato. The commission must learn from its mistakes and stop breaching the rules that help ensure the safety of what is grown in Europe.”
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