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GM Freeze Statement: GM maize 1507 cultivation application process

Immediate release (17 Dec 2013)

Calls to: Helena Paul 0845 217 8992

GM Freeze today warned the European Commission against pushing through the approval of DuPont Pioneer’s GM maize 1507, which is being considered for commercial growing.

Last week’s decision of the European General Court to annul the Commission’s approval of the Amflora GM potato, intended for industrial starch production, leaves only Monsanto’s GM maize MON810 approved for growing in the EU. [1] The Commission is now trying to rush through cultivation approval for Pioneer1507, in spite of many gaps in the risk assessment. Pioneer1507 is an insect resistant Bt GM maize and contains a marker gene that also makes the maize resistant to the weedkiller glufosinate.

GM Freeze Director Helena Paul said:

The EU General Court annulment on Friday of the Commission’s highly controversial approval of the GM potato Amflora is a salutary lesson for the EU as it moves to consider the outstanding cultivation application for GM maize Pioneer1507. [2] Following approval procedures for GM crops clearly matters to the courts, and the current proposal for a decision on Pioneer1507 ‘in writing’, without any discussion in the relevant Committees, raises serious questions about whether this approach is good enough since it appears to repeat the same procedural failure as the Amflora decision.

The interests that want a new GM crop approved in the EU have had years to conduct the Pioneer1507 authorisation procedure in the normal way, which already leaves unelected Commission officials able to approve crops if Member States can’t agree. Yet despite significant questions still hanging over gaps in the safety assessment of the GM maize crop, the Commission is now trying to get it approved without the required Committee discussions. [3]

It is reasonable to question why this crop gets this special treatment, and why it has not been dealt with in the normal way if it is as safe and thoroughly evaluated as proponents say it is. It could be that no one wants it so the Commission is scrambling to save face – the Lithuanian Presidency clearly doesn’t want to preside over such a vote, and the next Presidency is held by Greece – a well-known GM-free country.

Given the disastrous rollout of Amflora, which had to be rolled back almost immediately after bad seed contaminated fields with a different unauthorised GM potato, it is also reasonable to reject any GM crop that is not properly assessed, authorised and controlled. Pioneer1507 GM maize is just such a crop, and since we would risk ending up with glufosinate resistant GM maize pollen spreading across European fields it should be rejected.

 

Notes

[1] MON810 is grown in relatively small quantities in the EU, mainly in Spain, for use in animal feed. MON810 cultivation is banned in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Austria and Luxemburg, with a ban in Italy under consideration (see GM Freeze 5 April 2013, “Italy’s GM Maize Ban Tips EU Balance, Leaves UK in the Cold”).

[2] The General Court is the second highest court in the EU. It is the same court that ruled in September that the Commission must process the 2001 Pioneer1507 application, although this does not mean the EU must approve that application. On 13 December 2013 the General Court ruled that the Commission failed to correctly follow established procedure in authorising the GM Amflora potato and annulled that authorisation (the full General Court ruling on Amflora is available at http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/upload/docs/application/pdf/2013-12/cp130160en.pdf).

[3] GM Freeze, 13 November 2013. “UK warned: Devolved rejection of GM means UK must vote ‘No’ on new maize