Europe’s top food safety regulator has delivered a scientific opinion backing Monsanto’s application to place genetically modified (GM) pollen on the market for use 'in or as foods.'
In its opinion (found here ) the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) GMO addresses the safety of pollen from Monsanto’s MON 810 genetically modified maize for use ‘as or in’ a foodstuff.
The top European food regulator’s scientific opinion, published today, backs the application from the biotech giant for the placing on the market of MON 810 maize pollen under Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003.
The GMO Panel said while is ‘not in a position’ to rule on the safety of maize pollen in or as food in general, “it concludes that the genetic modification in maize MON 810 does not constitute an additional health risk if maize MON 810 pollen is to replace maize pollen from non-GM maize in or as food.”
“The overall opinion fulfils the requirements of Article 6 for the placing on the market of genetically modified maize MON 810 pollen,” reads the EFSA opinion.
In delivering its scientific opinion, the GMO Panel said it considered data from the Monsanto application (EFSA-GMO-NL-2012-107), plus data from other applications related to maize MON 810 submitted in the European Union, scientific comments submitted by the Member States and relevant scientific publications.
GM pollen and honey
Last year the EU Court of Justice, the highest court in the bloc, ruled that honey containing traces of pollen from GM plants must receive prior authorisation before it can be sold as food in the EU. However a European Commission (EC) proposal this year recognised that pollen is a natural constituent and not an ingredient of honey; therefore meaning that, in honey at least labelling rules requiring a list of ingredients would not apply.
“The Commission's proposal will not affect the conclusion of the Court as regards the application of the GMO legislation to GM pollen in food,” said the EC document.
“In particular it does not alter the Court conclusion that honey containing GM pollen can be placed on the market only if it is covered by an authorisation under the legislation.”
The EFSA GMO Panel said: “While limited data are available on the compositional and safety characteristics of maize pollen in general and pollen of maize MON 810 in particular, the EFSA GMO Panel considered a range of additional data constituting a weight of evidence approach for the safety of maize MON 810 pollen compared with other maize pollen.”
The evidence considered by EFSA consisted of:
- the molecular characterisation of maize MON 810;
- extensive data on composition and agronomic/phenotypic characteristics in maize MON810, including reproductive traits related to pollen production and viability;
- the food and feed safety of maize MON 810 and the newly expressed Cry1Ab protein.
“These data do not indicate potential concerns over the safety of the newly expressed Cry1Ab protein or the occurrence of unintended effects that could raise safety concerns,” said EFSA.