The European Union’s 15 agriculture ministers have failed to reach an agreement on whether or not to allow imports of a genetically modified maize product known as Bt-11.

However, this means the matter has now been referred back to the European Commission, which is expected to issue the authorisation for imports of the GM sweet corn, reported Reuters.

The approval for Bt-11 maize, a product of Swiss biotech firm Syngenta, would be for consumption as sweet corn from the can, not as a crop to be cultivated on EU farms.

“We’re now in business. The laws are in place and we can do this (authorise Bt-11) in such a way that consumers are protected,” EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner David Byrne was quoted by Reuters as saying. 

“It is therefore logical that we move ahead with pending authorisations,” he said, adding that the matter would probably go before the Commission in late May or early June. “I don’t expect any opposition,” Byrne added.

Britain, Finland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden voted in favour of authorisation for Bt-11. Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Luxembourg and Portugal all voted against the proposal, while Belgium, Germany and Spain abstained.