European Commission authorizes import of two genetically modified crops for use in food and animal feed

EUROPE—The European Commission has authorized the import of two genetically modified (GM) crops (one maize and one soya bean) for use in food and animal feed.

Member States did not reach a qualified majority either in favor or against at the Standing Committee and at the subsequent Appeal Committee. The European Commission has therefore the legal duty to proceed with the authorizations.

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These genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have gone through a comprehensive and stringent authorization procedure, including a favorable scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

According to the commission, these procedures ensure a high level of protection of human and animal health, and of the environment as well.

People have been altering the genomes of plants and animals for many years using artificial selection, in which organisms that exhibit specific traits are chosen to breed subsequent generations. But this artificial selection has been limited to naturally occurring variation.

In recent decades, however, advances in the field of genetic engineering have allowed for precise control over the genetic changes introduced into an organism. Genetic modification is a technology that involves inserting DNA into the genome of an organism.

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To produce a GM plant, new DNA is transferred into plant cells. Usually, the cells are then grown in tissue culture where they develop into plants. The new DNA becomes part of the GM plant’s genome which the seeds produced by these plants will contain.

Such organisms are GMOs. Food and feed which contain or consist of such GMOs, or are produced from GMOs, are called ‘genetically modified (GM) food or feed’.

Prompting the authorization for the use of these maize and one soya bean GMOs, was the favorable scientific assessment issued by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluding that they are as safe as their conventional counterparts.

The authorizations are valid for 10 years, and any product produced from these GMOs will be subject to the EU’s strict labelling and traceability rules.

Traceability enables tracking GMOs and GM food/feed products at all stages of the supply chain. According to the EU Commission, traceability also makes labelling of all GMOs and GM food/feed products possible.

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It allows for close monitoring of potential effects on the environment and on health. Where necessary it can allow the withdrawal of products if an unexpected risk to human health or to the environment is detected.

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