EU Narrowly Avoids Major GMO Mistake

Failure isn’t always a bad thing. For example, take what happened in Brussels this week, where EU members failed to raise the requisite number of votes to ban a pair of genetically modified crops from the bloc. As Reuters reports, a majority of member nations did vote in favor of the ban, but that wasn’t enough to push it through:

EU governments were asked to vote on the future of two grades of GM maize, Pioneer’s 1507 and Syngenta’s Bt11, which kill insects by producing their own pesticide and are also resistant to a particular herbicide.

However, the votes against were not decisive in blocking their introduction because the opposition did not represent a “qualified majority” – also including countries that make up at least 65 percent of the EU population.

The governments were also asked to determine whether to extend authorization for Monsanto’s MON810, an insect-resistant maize that is grown mainly in Spain, but banned in a number of other counties. More countries voted against than in favor, but again the vote was not considered decisive.

The EU currently only grows one variety of GM crop, a variety of corn that produces its own pesticide, therefore precluding the need for spraying (producing both economic and environmental savings). The two crops voted on on Monday are similar, and the fact that EU members failed to scrounge up enough votes to block them could pave the way for increased GM crop cultivation on the continent.

The decision on whether or not to accept cultivation of the two GM crops in question will now fall to the European Commission. If Juncker is smart, he’ll green-light these crops and let EU members make their own decisions on whether or not to plant them.

Time and again, studies have shown GM crops to be safe for human consumption, and in this case the crops in question are safer for the environment than their non-GM alternatives, as they don’t require being dusted by potentially harmful pesticides. They’re also capable of producing higher yields than “normal” crops by being more insect resistant, which means their cultivation could and should bolster the EU’s food security.

Greens take particular pleasure in stoking the public’s fear of genetically modified organisms, but those in the know remind us that these crops are essential for humanity to feed its teeming billions. The EU’s latest green fail is, therefore, a step in the right direction.

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