After 13 years of obstruction and disagreement, the European Union may be ready to green-light a pest-resistant genetically modified crop of corn . Reuters reports:
On Tuesday, ministers and diplomats from 19 of the 28 EU countries opposed approval, but under the bloc’s weighted voting system, that was not enough to reject the crop.Instead, the Commission is now legally obliged to approve it, European Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said. He said he could not specify when, although EU rules state the Commission must decide “without undue delay”.
Europe’s chief concerns here aren’t for human health. A European Food Safety Authority scientific panel said way back in 2005 that the corn was as safe for human consumption as its conventional counterpart. Rather, environmentalists are concerned that the toxin the GMO produces, which is harmful to pestilent moths, might cause collateral damage. But on that front, the EFSA again cleared the corn: “The Panel agrees with the assessment of the applicant that risk of exposure of non-target [organisms] to harmful toxin concentrations via 1507 maize pollen is negligible and that adverse impacts on populations are very unlikely.”Green opposition to GMOs has always been more about sentiment than science, and nowhere does that inclination cloud policymaking more than in Europe. That’s why the EU hasn’t been able to agree on this crop after more than a decade of argument. EU member states didn’t reach an agreement today, but thanks to a procedural rule, they didn’t have to—the European Commission now must approve the crop. Bureaucracy is doing what scientific analysis couldn’t: overriding intractable green resistance and bringing the benefits of technology to Europe.