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EC sidesteps dithering states to approve four new GMOs

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The European Commission has waved through four new genetically modified organisms (GMO) for consumption in the European Union. This means that 15 GMOs have been allowed in to the EU since the region lifted its outright ban on the crops in 2004.

Member states couldn't agree on whether or not to allow the crops to be imported, so the commission stepped in. It is authorised to do so in cases where there's no clear majority after three months of debate and voting, as long as it bases its decision on the findings of the European Food and Safety Agency (EFSA).

When we say waved through, we mean okayed after a two year consultation our friends on the other side of the Atlantic thought took rather too long. The EC said it was happy to extend a 10 year welcome to the crops for use in food and animal feed.

The crops include three types of corn, owned by Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Du Pont, as well as a sugar beet which Monsanto developed in partnership with KWS Saat. They have been developed to be resistent to common pests and proprietory herbicides.

Serious opposition to the crops had come from Italy, Cyprus, and Greece, among others. Supporters of the vote, such as the UK, had argued earlier that failure to approve the crops once they had been declared safe would expose the EU to legal action from countries like the US.

"All of the GMOs received positive safety assessments from EFSA and underwent the full authorisation procedure set out under EU legislation... [and] will be subject to the EU's strict labelling and traceability rules," the commission said in a statement. ®

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