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EU Bureaucrats Approve Monsanto Frankencorn for Animal Feed Despite Widespread Public Opposition

Environment News Service <www.ens-newswire.com>

EU Permits Genetically Modified Maize in as Animal Feed

BRUSSELS, Belgium, August 9, 2005 (ENS) - The European Commission Monday
granted a 10 year permit to Monsanto to import a controversial genetically
modified maize, MON863, for use as animal feed. The maize has been modified
by Monsanto to make it resistant to the corn rootworm. The decision does not
cover uses as human food or cultivation, but a vote on these uses will come
in September.

EU Ministers will vote on the food application for the same maize, MON863,
in September. Under EU legislation, no import, including that of animal
feed, is allowed until the food application has been authorized. In this
case, no imports will be able to start unless the MON863 food application is
authorized.

Monsanto's animal feed application failed to get support at the June 24th
European Union Environment Council when the majority of EU member states
abstained or voted against it. As a qualified majority was not reached, the
final decision reverted to the European Commission.

With the approval of MON863, the Commission says it is applying the
regulatory framework governing the release of genetically modified
organisms, one of the strictest in the world.

The adult stage of the western corn rootworm, shown here searching for
pollen on corn silk. (Photo courtesy USDA)
The MON863 maize has been subject to a rigorous pre-market risk assessment,
and has been deemed as safe as any conventional maize by the European Food
Safety Authority. Robust post-marketing rules will ensure that the product
can be traced and monitored when put on the market.

MON863 is the second product to be assessed and approved after the entry
into force of the law governing identification and tracing of gentically
modified foods.

The product will be covered by the new strict labelling and traceability
rules which came into force in April 2004.

When put on the market, any product derived from the MON863 maize will need
to be clearly labelled as containing genetically modified maize. Its
post-marketing monitoring will be assured through a unique identifier
assigned to the maize to enable its traceability.

A request to market MON863 was submitted by Monsanto to the competent
authority of Germany for assessment. The requested uses of the product
included import, processing and feed use but not use in food or for
cultivation.

Maize or corn can be genetically modified to resist the corn rootworm.
(Photo by Doug Wilson courtesty USDA)
The German competent authority concluded that there was no scientific
evidence that indicated any risk for human health or the environment for the
requested uses.

But other EU member states raised and maintained objections in terms of
molecular characterization, allergenicity, toxicity, an inadequate
monitoring plan, accidental spillage, presence of an antibiotic resistance
marker gene and detectability, the European Commission said.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was consulted and delivered its
opinion on April 16, 2004 concluding that the MON863 maize was as safe as
conventional maize and unlikely to produce adverse effects.

Friends of the Earth UK has condemned the European Commission's decision to
grant a permit for import of the maize, which the campaign group says "once
again ignores member states' concerns over safety."

Friends of the Earth accuses Monsanto and the European Union of ignoring
evidence that would have bearing on the determination.

This neglected evidence centers on a research report showing that the
results of a feeding study of the engineered maize on rats showed
significantly different levels of white blood cells, kidney weights and
kidney structure, as well as lower albumin/globulin rate in the rats fed the
genetically modified maize.

Friends of the Earth says that also ignored are:
? Scientists' criticism of the maize: a number of scientists from
different Member States, including the French Commission for Genetic
Engineering (CGB), were therefore concerned and severely criticized to
maize.

? EFSA's disregard of member state scientists: the European Food
Safety Authority (EFSA) rejected all concerns raised by Member States when
reviewing the application, and delivered a positive opinion.

? Monsanto's refusal to publish key documents: Monsanto refused to
publish the initial rat study, having requested when it filed the
application, that crucial documents including the rat study be classified as
confidential.

? German court rules against Monsanto: in June 2005, the German
government won a court ruling against Monsanto and the documents where made
public. The documents released in June seem to confirm that there is cause
for serious safety concern.
Helen Holder, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) campaign coordinator
for Friends of the Earth Europe said, "Once again, the Commission has
ignored serious concerns raised by Member States over the safety of GMOs.
The Commission has authorized this maize despite attempts by Monsanto to
hush up the food safety results.

"Member states have another chance to block this maize at the September
Agriculture Council," said Holder. "They must use the opportunity to protect
their citizens, stand up to the Commission, and reject it once and for all."

Questions or Comments: editor at ens-news.com