A key vote on Friday saw European nations oppose the European Commission’s proposal to authorize the first new GM crops for cultivation since 1998, but failed to achieve the necessary majority for the proposal to be formally shelved.
The decision concerns GM maize types from Syngenta and Dow-Pioneer (technical names BT11 and 1507) and the renewal of the only GM maize currently allowed to be grown in the EU (Mon810 from Monsanto). All three crops have been modified to produce insecticide in their own cells. The two new crops can also tolerate being sprayed with glufosinate, a highly toxic herbicide produced by Bayer.
EU member states were voting on a proposal to authorize two new strains of GM maize, and the re-authorization of the one GM crop currently grown in the EU (also maize).
Thirteen member states voted to reject the new crops, while eight voted in favor. Twelve voted to remove the one existing GM crop from EU fields and ten to keep it. However, despite the convincing rejection of new crops, neither decision met the qualified majority voting bar and it is now up to the European Commission to decide what to do next.
The European nations voted as follows:
Renewal of Mon810:
12 Member states voted against the proposal: Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, Greece, France, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Slovenia
10 Member states voted in In favor: Czech Republic, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom
6 Member States abstained: Belgium, Germany, Croatia, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia
Authorization of 1507 and Bt 11:
13 Member States voted against: Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, Greece, France, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden
8 Member States voted in favor: Estonia, Spain, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Romania, Finland, United Kingdom
7 Member States abstained: Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Croatia, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia
GM Freeze Director Liz O’Neill said:
“With Europe’s nations divided, the Commission must protect our right to grow and eat GM Free by sending these crops packing. GM Bt maize is designed to kill pests but its impact on beneficial insects like butterflies is poorly understood. National bans are supposed to give countries control over their farms but no measures have been put in place to protect those who have used the “opt-out” mechanism (including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) from contamination. Maize pollen travels kilometers and is no more likely to respect a national border than to turn left at a roundabout so keeping GM out of your own back yard is never going to be enough.
“The UK’s vote in favor of all three GM maize crops, despite each being banned in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, should ring alarm bells for anyone who wants to protect biodiversity and consumer choice in post-Brexit Britain.”
* * *