Brussels, 09 Oct 2006
The European Commission decided today to re-submit to the EU Council of Ministers proposals to lift the ban imposed by Austria on the marketing of two authorised genetically modified maize varieties, MON810 and T25. Austria introduced these bans under Directive 90/220/EEC in 1999 and 2000 respectively. The Council can either adopt or reject the proposals with a qualified majority. If no decision is taken after three months, the files return to the Commission which can then adopt them. If adopted Austria would have to repeal its national ban at the latest 20 days after it is formally notified of this decision. A further six bans were invoked by other Member States around the same time to ban the marketing of another GM maize variety (Bt176) and two oilseed rape varieties (Ms1Rf1 and Topas). The Scientific Committees reviewed all information submitted by these Member States as justification for their bans. In all cases, their scientific assessment was that this information provided no new elements of risk. This is why the Commission took the view that these safeguard clauses were not justified under EU law and submitted proposals to the Council of Ministers, in June 2005, to withdraw these bans. The Council disagreed with the Commission and voted against these proposals. In view of the Council position, the Commission decided to re-consult the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), a body composed of independent scientists, for a further opinion on the information provided by Austria to justify the bans. EFSA again concluded that this information did not constitute new elements of risk. The Commission is also considering the other six bans in light of the fact that the GMO products in question are no longer to be marketed and cultivated in the EU. This has effectively rendered the corresponding safeguard clauses for these products obsolete.