Despite the recent lifting by the EU of its unofficial six-year moratorium on approving new genetically modified organisms, a scientific panel has failed to agree on whether or not to approve the import and processing of a type of genetically modified canola, or oilseed rape.

The experts could not secure a majority either for or against the approval of Monsanto's Roundup Ready canola, engineered to withstand the company's weedkiller, reported the Associated Press.

Last month the EU approved a variety of genetically modified sweetcorn made by Swiss biotech giant Syngenta. The maize was approved for import and sale in the EU, but not for cultivation.

As with Syngenta's Bt-11 maize, Monsanto's canola will now go before EU ministers, who will have three months to reach a decision on approval. If they too remain deadlocked, the decision will be passed to the European Commission.

"We're disappointed that the EU member states failed to reach a decision despite the fact that the European food safety authority has already issued a positive opinion," Monsanto spokesman Bryan Hurley was quoted by AP as saying.