On the 11th of July, the EU Commission and representatives from EU Member States are expected to allow market authorisation for pollen from genetically engineered maize MON810 for use in food such as honey

The same committee is expected to vote to allow use of the genetically engineered maize SmartStax and another nine GM Maize varieties in food and feed.

In all cases a favourable assessment has been given by the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) and unless member state representatives raise objections in the committee – which is unlikely – market approval will be granted.

In the event of a stalemate vote the EU Commission has the power to press on and grant authorizations by itself.

EFSA’s evaluation is wholly inadequate and flawed

Testbiotech, an independent research organisation which studies the impact of GM technology has reviewed the EFSA opinions had has found them to wholly inadequate and flawed.

They argue that EFSA’s assessment on the pollen is based on inadequate data, poor methodology and analysis and failure to consider adequately all the available research.

Their evaluation of EFSA’s reports on “SmartStax” reveal similar concerns and they have written to EU Commissioner Berg pointing out that EFSA’s assessments are not sufficiently based on the scientific evidence and completely ignores recent research findings.

Testbiotech director Christoph Then says that the “SmartStax” authorization is being rushed through as evidence has been found that its unauthorized and illegal presence has been found in the EU food chain from US imports.

He argues, “This case shows that decisions made by the Commission on permitting genetically engineered plants in food and feed are not sufficiently based on science but on economic pressure.”

“Just because US companies want unrestricted import of these types of maize into Europe, the EU Commission is continuing the authorisation process and refusing to acknowledge the actual risks”.

 “This is a serious threat to consumers and the protection of health and the environment.”

Human health risks are the price of EFSA’s opinions

SmartStax is a joint Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences crop plant that produces six insecticidal proteins and is tolerant to two herbicides.

The other varieties of genetically engineered maize produce insecticidal toxins and are resistant to herbicides. One is sold under the brand name Powercore.

The risks of this “stacked traits” maize have never been fully investigated with feeding trials – in one case where poultry was fed with the kernels for just 42 days in order to observe weight gain – being the basis of EFSA’s assessments.

In the case of Powercore the results from these feeding trials were even rejected by EFSA as unreliable yet they still gave a favourable opinion without asking for any further studies.

Testbiotech is demanding a new and comprehensive risk assessment of these genetically engineered plants and for the authorisation procedure to be suspended in the mean time.

1/7/13

Sources:

http://www.testbiotech.org/en

Agenda of the meeting of the EU Commission with Member States: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/health_consumer/dgs_consultations/docs/appeal_commitee_agenda_11072013_en.pdf

More background on risk assessment of SmartStax: www.testbiotech.de/en/node/515

Correspondence with EU Commission about new findings of health risks being published: http://www.testbiotech.de/sites/default/files/Letter%20Tesbtiotech_SmartStax_June_2013_1.pdf

Briefing on risk assessment of pollen from GE maize MON810: http://www.testbiotech.org/node/766

e-mail alert to prevent the EU Commission from allowing SmartStax to be sold in the EU: www.testbiotech.de/en/node/815