The European Union ended its controversial ban on genetically modified foods on Wednesday as its executive body authorised imports of a biotech maize, the first new EU approval in more than five years, officials said.
The European Commission agreed to allow imports of the maize, known as Bt-11 and marketed by Swiss agrochemicals giant Syngenta, to be sold as tinned sweetcorn on supermarket shelves across the 25-member bloc.
“Bt-11 was approved by the Commission,” Commission spokeswoman Beate Gminder told reporters.
The decision follows months of deadlock between the EU’s member states and also flies in the face of European opinion, where consumers are overwhelmingly opposed to biotech food.
But it should delight some of the EU’s top trading partners, especially the United States, which has challenged the EU ban at the World Trade Organisation and claims lost export revenue.
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD