Farming News - Parliament calls on Commission to withdraw GM crop approval

Parliament calls on Commission to withdraw GM crop approval

18 Dec 2015
Frontdesk / Arable

On Wednesday, the European Parliament urged the Commission to withdraw its authorisation of glyphosate-tolerant GM maize NK603xT25.

The maize was licensed for use in food and feed, but MEPs said they have concerns that the EU’s GM licensing procedure is not working well and noted that glyphosate, the herbicide which NK603xT25 has been engineered to tolerate, is classified as “probably carcinogenic” by the WHO. The Commission took the decision to authorise the GM maize, along with another, Monsanto’s MON87427, on 4th December.

Though the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency, IARC, classed glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ in March, the Commission’s advisers in the European Food Safety Authority ruled in November that the herbicide was unlikely to pose such a risk. However, EFSA’s analysis has been criticised for lacking the breath of the IARC’s review.

On Wednesday, MEPs also reiterated that since the current GM authorisation process came into force, every GM authorisation decision has been taken by the Commission without the support of a qualified majority of member states. In effect, this turns what should be the exception into the norm.

The motion calling for a withdrawal of the Commission’s authorisation was approved by 403 votes to 238, with 50 abstentions.

After the vote, MEP Bart Staes, EU Greens’ food safety spokesperson, said, “In objecting to the authorisation of this GM maize, MEPs have today issued a clear rebuke to the EU Commission over its decision to push ahead with the authorisation of genetically-modified food and feed. Scandalously, the Commission proceeded to finalise the authorisation despite the EP's environment committee having voted to object to the authorisation and without waiting for the plenary vote. This is a blow to the EU's democratic process and underlines the urgent need to revise the EU system for approving genetically-modified food.

"In the absence of a properly reformed authorisation system, it is irresponsible to proceed with further GMO approvals. With the Commission itself having acknowledged the need to reform the flawed authorisation process, it should not be continuing to approve GMOs in the interim.”  

Greenpeace suggested the Commission is coming under pressure from American negotiations as part of the ongoing TTIP process. The US wants to see more GM crops imported into Europe as part of the controversial transatlantic trade deal. Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg commented, “It is crucial that the Parliament challenges the Commission over its policy on genetically modified crops. Despite recurrent promises to change the rules and make the decision process for GM crops more democratic, the Commission has retained its disproportionate powers. It keeps using them extensively to push GM crops on the European market against widespread public opposition.”