A proposal by the European Commission to authorise the import and processing of genetically modified maize MON 863 has been referred to the EU Council of Ministers.

The referral comes after the Regulatory Committee on the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment did not reach the qualified majority necessary to support the Commission's proposal to authorise the maize.

The Commission said it would, in the coming weeks, formally send the proposal to the Council of Ministers for decision. The Council can either adopt or reject the proposal with a qualified majority. If no decision is taken after three months, the proposal returns to the Commission, which can then approve it.

If authorised, the Bt-maize, which has been modified for resistance to corn rootworm, would be clearly labelled as containing GM maize, in accordance with the EU's labelling and traceability legislation that entered into force in April 2004. It would be authorised for import and processing, for example as animal feed, but not for cultivation or human food.