The German government will abstain from a vote on the cultivation of a variety of genetically modified (GM) maize next week, spokesperson Steffen Seibert said on Wednesday.
A request to cultivate the crop – insect-resistant and herbicide-resistant maize variety 1507 – was filed in Europe in 2001 and it has since received six positive safety opinions from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Late last year, a European court ruled that a European court blamed the European Commission for causing delays and ordered it to refer the decision to the Council of Ministers.
Seibert said that it was normal practice to abstain when there were different opinions within the government on the issue.
A vote is expected next Tuesday. If EU member states fail to reach an agreement, the GM maize approval will go back to the European Commission to make a default decision.
DuPont Pioneer, the company behind the maize variety, has welcomed the decision to move ahead with the application.
“1507 maize meets all EU regulatory requirements and should be approved for cultivation without further delay,” company spokesperson József Máté said in a statement.
Meanwhile, GM opponents continue to criticise its use, claiming that there are still gaps in safety testing, with particular concerns about its potential impact on butterflies and moths. Greenpeace has urged the Commission to reconsider its decision to recommend the crop for cultivation.
Currently, only one GM crop is commercially grown in Europe, Monsanto’s MON810 maize variety, which has been modified for resistance to the European corn borer pest. BASF’s GM Amflora potato variety was approved for cultivation in the EU in 2010, but has not been grown in the region since 2011 , after the company said there was a lack of market acceptance.