Brussels, 09 Dec 2003
Member State representatives meeting at the EU standing committee on the food chain and animal health on 8 December were unable to reach a decision on whether to authorise the import of a new type of genetically modified (GM) corn.
Bt-11, a variety of sweet corn that has been genetically modified with an inbuilt insecticide, is produced by the Swiss company Syngenta. The decision was regarded by some as the first test of the EU's recently adopted regulations on GM products.
Ultimately, the required qualified majority decision proved elusive. Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK were all in favour of approving the import of Bt-11, while Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Luxembourg and Portugal were opposed. Belgium, Germany and Italy abstained from the vote.
The committee's failure to reach a decision means that responsibility now passes to the Agriculture Council, where EU ministers will vote on the basis of a Commission proposal. If Member States are again unable to reach a qualified majority, the Commission could take the decision to grant an authorisation itself.
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