Following an inconclusive vote in the Appeal Committee, on 27 September, it is now up to the European Commission to decide on the authorization of genetically modified (GM) maize MIR162 for use in food and feed, as well as for import and processing in the European Union
According to a Commission source, it is likely, given the procedural requirements set up by the Lisbon Treaty, that the EU executive green-lights the authorisation of MIR162.
“In recent months, in cases like this, when no opinion was adopted by the Appeal Committee, the Commission was adopting the draft implementing decisions,” the source explained.
The Lisbon Treaty has introduced new rules for the adoption of implementing decisions on the authorisation of GMOs for use or cultivation in the EU. According to these, “if the Appeal Committee makes no decision, the Commission may adopt its proposal”.
The Appeal Committee, which consists of representatives from the 27 EU member states, failed, on 27 September, to reach a qualify majority in order to adopt a position either for or against the Commission’s draft implementing decision on the authorisation of MIR162 for use in the EU (the draft decision was submitted under Regulation 1829/2003).
All delegations upheld their positions adopted in the preceding vote, on 10 September, in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH). According to primary results, there were 152 weighted votes in favour, 96 weighted votes against and 97 abstentions (a qualified majority is achieved with 255 votes cast by at least 14 member states).
Countries that voted in favour included Spain and the Netherlands. Poland, which since 2008 has been against authorisation of GMOs for other than research purposes, was joined inter alia by Austria in the vote against the Commission’s proposal. France, Germany, Italy and Bulgaria abstained.
The vote followed a positive opinion issued, in July 2012, by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), in which the EU watchdog concluded that MIR162 is “as safe as its non-genetically modified counterpart with respect to potential effects on human and animal health or the environment”.
Within three months after the EFSA’s opinion, the Commission granted authorisation for the use of GM maize MIR162 in food and feed, as well as for import and processing in the European Union. The proposal was then submitted to the SCFCAH for approval through qualified majority vote.
MIR162 is made by the Swiss company Syngenta Seeds, which applied for authorisation for use in the EU in July 2010. The final stage of the authorisation procedure comes after the publication last week of a study by Gilles-Eric Séralini, which found that rats fed over two years with authorized GM maize NK603 or dosed with Roundup at permitted levels died earlier than rats fed a non-GM diet after suffering from tumours and liver and kidney damage.