The European Commission has today [Wednesday] authorised the import into the EU of sweet corn made from Syngenta’s genetically modified maize line Bt11.

The decision effectively ends the EU’s unofficial moratorium on GM foods, which has been in place for over five years, during which time no new GM foods were approved for use in the EU.

Under strict EU laws, any imports of the canned sweet corn will have to show clearly on the labelling that the corn has been harvested from a genetically modified plant.

Grain from the GM maize line Bt11 has been authorised for import into Europe since 1998 and is widely used in the EU in feed and in derived food products, e.g. maize oil, maize flour, sugar and syrup, snack foods, baked foods, fried foods, confectionery and soft drinks, the Commission said. The authorisation today covers the specific use for imports of canned or fresh sweet corn (maize). An authorisation for cultivation of Bt11 maize is pending and has not yet been granted.

“GM sweet corn has been subject to the most rigorous pre-marketing assessment in the world. It has been scientifically assessed as being as safe as any conventional maize. Food safety is therefore not an issue, it is a question of consumer choice. The new EU rules on GMOs require clear labelling and traceability. Labelling provides consumers with the information they need to make up their own mind. They are therefore free to choose what they want to buy. The Commission is acting responsibly based on stringent and clear legislation,” said David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection.

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