A regulatory committee of the EU today took a decision on the renewal of the authorisation of a variety of GM maize (NK603, 'Round-Up Ready') in spite of research highlighting major potential concerns for human health. While the committee reached a 'no opinion', under the complex EU rules, it is now still up to the European Commission to decide on whether to grant the renewal (1). Commenting on the outcome, Green health and food safety spokesman Bart Staes MEP stated:
"The decision to force through the renewal of the authorisation for this highly controversial maize variety, with no new risk assessment on its health impact, would be a scandal. There have long been concerns about the human health impact of this maize variety, with even the European Commission accepting the need to research this further *. Against this background, it would be grossly irresponsible for the Commission to simply waive through the renewal of the authorisation for the sale of this maize for food and feed. The Greens believe the outgoing Commission must not grant this renewal and should pass the file to the next Commission, which should be obliged to withhold the renewal in current circumstances.
"While this decision is about GMO imports for food and feed, it should also set alarm bells ringing in the context of the draft proposals for revising the EU's authorisation process for the cultivation of GMOs, which were recently given the green light by EU member states in Council. It makes no sense to introduce a system for facilitating EU authorisations in a context where risk assessments are incomplete, a consistent majority of EU governments opposes EU authorisations and EU citizens are clearly against GMOs. Commission presidency candidate Juncker has this week indicated he shares these concerns. We hope the European Parliament will heed this warning and block the proposals."
(1) The Appeal Committee of the EU's Council of Ministers today voted on the renewal of the authorisation for the import and placing on the market of GM maize NK603. There was no qualified majority for the renewal. This 'no option' outcome of committee means the proposed renewal is now referred to the European Commission to take the final decision. In the past, the Commission has simply granted authorisations in these circumstances.
* There has been no long-term research on the impacts of this GM maize variety conducted by EU authorities. In addition, the European Commission is still working on new impact assessment rules for GMOs.