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EU Set to Rubberstamp Imports of Four GMO Crop Products

Date: 16-Oct-07
Country: BELGIUM

The decision, expected on Oct. 24, will be a rubberstamp procedure applied by the European Commission, the EU executive.

Three of the GMO products are maize types, two of them hybrids, and the fourth is a sugar beet. None would be grown in Europe but would be imported for use in food and animal feed.

The decision is allowed under a legal default process that kicks in when EU ministers cannot agree among themselves after three months. In September, ministers failed to reach a consensus agreement under the EU weighted voting system.

The first GMO maize, known commercially as Herculex RW and also by its code name 59122, is jointly made by Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a subsidiary of DuPont Co and Dow AgroSciences unit Mycogen Seeds.

Herculex is designed to protect against larval stages of corn rootworm, which eats through plant roots and so reduces yield and nutrients. It also resists the active herbicide ingredient glufosinate-ammonium.

The same two companies developed a maize hybrid called 1507/NK603 to resist field pests like the European corn borer, as well as the glufosinate-ammonium and glyphosate herbicides.

The third GMO maize is also a hybrid, developed by US biotech company Monsanto and called MON810/NK603. The maize plants resist certain insects and also glyphosate -- the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.

The sugar beet, called H7-1, was developed jointly by Monsanto and German plant breeding company KWS SAAT AG to resist glyphosate-containing herbicides. It is designed for use in foods and feed, such as sugar, syrup, dried pulp and molasses.

Since the EU's six-year unofficial moratorium on approving new GMO products was lifted in 2004, the Commission has authorised a string of GMOs in this way, outraging green groups.

For many years, EU countries have been unable to secure the majority needed to vote through a new GMO approval. They last agreed to authorise a new GMO product in 1998.

European consumers are well known for their wariness towards GMO foods. But the biotech industry insists its products are safe and no different to conventional items.

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