Food safety: MEPs oppose authorising new genetically modified maize  

Genetically modified maize is subject to market authorisation in the EU, but member states may ban it from their national territory ©BELGA/DPA/ A.FRANKE  

The genetically modified maize “Pioneer 1507” should not be placed on the market for cultivation, because its insect-resistant pollen might harm non-target butterflies and moths, says the European Parliament in a resolution passed on Thursday. MEPs call on the EU Council of Ministers to reject its proposed authorisation, and urge the European Commission not to propose or renew authorisations of any GMO variety until risk assessment methods have been improved.

MEPs oppose the placing on the EU market of this genetically modified maize on the grounds that this would exceed the Commission’s implementing powers as laid down in EU rules on the deliberate release into the environment of GMOs. In particular, they note that the Commission proposal fails to specify any “conditions for protection of particular ecosystems/environments and/or geographical areas", as required by the legislation.

The resolution was passed by 385 votes to 201 with 30 abstentions.

Adverse effects

In its February 2012 opinion, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) explicitly did not agree with the conclusion cited by Pioneer that there is negligible risk of maize line 1507 to non-target Lepidoptera in the EU, and pointed out that they may be at risk when exposed to its pollen.

Parliament also notes that maize 1507 is resistant to the herbicide glufosinate, and is marketed as such in the United States and Canada. However, the EU classifies glufosinate as toxic to reproduction and will not authorise its use after 2017, it points out.


The last genetically modified crop to be authorised for cultivation in the EU was the Amflora potato, in 2010, but it was withdrawn from the EU market in December 2013, by order of the EU General Court (part of the Court of Justice). The only other GM crop authorised for cultivation in the EU is Monsanto’s MON 810 maize, but the renewal of its authorisation has been pending for years.

Procedure:  non-legislative resolution