On Monday, agricultural ministers from the European Union announced that they would not give official approval to allow the importation and use of genetically-enhanced strains of corn from the US.
At a Luxembourg-based meeting of EU farm officials, representatives from participating nations failed to agree on a number of proposals that sought to give the go-ahead to a variety laboratory engineered food staples””dubbed “ËœFrankenstein foods’ by critics.
At the top of the list of foods seeking entr©e to European farms were two varieties of corn engineered by rival US concerns Monsanto and Pioneer.
Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel supported the approval of both strains for import by European companies, arguing that shortages of livestock feed products such as soya and an increasingly heavy dependence on farm exports from the US meant that EU countries will have to get over their traditional aversion to genetically modified foods.
Boel also used the opportunity to take aim at the sort of overly stringent EU regulations that caused an enormous shipment of soya-based animal fodder to be shipped back to the US this summer after trace amounts of unapproved genetically modified corn were detected.
If the individual ministers in Brussels are unable to reach a consensus on whether or not to allow the importation of the proposed foods insiders say that the final decision will be handed over to the commission itself.
Boel offered a confident prediction on the outcome of such a contingency.
“We have to rely on science and not on emotions”¦The commission will take a clear decision and that will be a yes,” she said.
To date, only a small number of genetically altered plants have been approved for use on EU farms, and of those, only one””Monsanto’s MON810 maize strain, approved over ten years ago””has actually been cultivated.
While a number of European nations have separately acted to ban the cultivation of MON810 within their borders, United States officials continue to warn European leaders against using issues such as genetically modified crops as an excuse to throw up harmful protectionist trade barriers.
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