Health Impact News Editor Comments: Europe’s approach to GMO crops is in direct contrast to the approach in the United States. In the United States, the USDA under the current administration is relaxing restrictions and allowing GMO seed producers to conduct their own safety tests. Those currently concerned about environmental hazards and health issues have to use the US courts to try and stop the rapid deployment of new GMO seeds through litigation. The incredibly powerful GMO lobby is currently trying to restrict lawsuits as well, and to relax restrictions even more, with proposed amendments in the new Farm Bill and other legislation (See: Urgent Action Alert on TWO GMO Amendments!)

In Europe, however, they are heading in the opposite direction, as it was announced this week that approval of new GMO crops for the rest of 2012 was unlikely due to food safety concerns. More strict safety checks in the GMO approval process are being called for.

EU Commission (temporarily) stops approvals for cultivation of genetically engineered crops

EFSA requested to publish new opinions

18. July 2012

Recent investigations reveal that new approvals for the cultivation of genetically engineered crops in Europe in 2012 are unlikely. The Commission returned the dossiers for three maize lines to the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). MON810, Bt11 and maize 1507 have all been considered safe by EFSA numerous times. In a letter to the EU Commission, EFSA announces a new opinion on maize MON810 till December.

“In our view, this is a first sign that the Commission acknowledges that the present risk assessment for genetically engineered crops must be improved considerably. If EFSA was honest they would admit that there isn’t even any precise knowledge about the content of insecticidal Bt toxin in the plants“, says Christoph Then for Testbiotech „During the last ten years, there have been manifest problems with the independence of EFSA’s GMO experts. Now, opinions that were already finished with are being put to test again. However, there is a reasonable assumption that EFSA’s safety checks will in fact be more critical than in the past.“

In June, the GMO Panel was partly re-established but according to an assessment of Testbiotech, the majority of experts still can be seen as proponents of genetically engineered plants in agriculture.