By Rady Ananda
Nineteen of the European Union’s 28 states rejected Dupont’s insecticidal corn, citing concern for pollinators. Five EU states approved the genetically modified maize, and four abstained.
But because state votes are weighted based on population size, no clear majority was reached either way, which leaves it up to the European Commission, who approved Dupont Pioneer’s TC1507 corn on February 11.
The Commission approved TC1507 for import in November 2005 and five months later approved it for human consumption. This week’s approval will allow for its cultivation.
French activist and politician Jose Bove condemned the approval and explained that Germany’s abstention prevented a majority vote rejection of the corn.
“The European Parliament, the majority of Member States and 80% of citizens do not want GMOs in Europe,” Bove said in a statement, calling it “inconceivable” and “political” that the Commission would approve TC1507.
France is voting on a new bill to ban GM corn, to counter a high court ruling last year that annulled the ban.
Four of the five states approving its cultivation “produce virtually no corn in their territory,” he said.
The Greens/EFA plan to censure the EC for its approval of the crop and seek to revise GMO approval rules. Under EU rules, the Commission is empowered to approve GM for cultivation.
Rebecca Harms, Co-President of the Greens/EFA, warned that the authorization should be suspended until the approval process is revised to take account of “the legitimate and consistent opposition to this highly controversial technology.”
A motion of censure may be initiated by one-tenth of the members of the European Parliament (77 seats).
Twelve of the 19 nations that rejected TC1507 approval, the leading agricultural states in the EU, sent a letter to the Commission warning that GM approval may spark voter condemnation in the upcoming summer elections.
Reuters speculated that the battle may lead to a situation when GM crops would be allowed in the EU in general, with all countries reserving the right to ban them nationwide, without restriction.
But trade agreements may overturn this right.
Bove warned that TAFTA, the TransAtlantic Free Trade Area agreement still in negotiation, is setting up arbitration courts to enable corporations to challenge state laws, forcing their product on nations that do not want it.
TC1507 is the second GM crop to win cultivation approval in the EU. Monsanto GM corn, MON810, is approved, but mostly grown only in Spain. Three other GM crops were approved for cultivation, but later banned. Widespread populist opposition has stymied further market penetration of biotech crops.
The 19 nations to reject TC1507 are: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
Estonia, Finland, Spain, Sweden and the UK approved it, while four abstained: Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany and Portugal.
An earlier version of this article first appeared at Activist Post.