Monsanto’s SmartStax maize ‘to be approved for growth in October’ in EU

Controversial genetically modified super-maize from Monsanto is set to be approved for cultivation across the European Union by late October, officials tell RT.

Despite EU regulators last month thwarting the expansion of the world’s largest seed corporation, it appears Germany won’t escape new GMO crops.

A spokesman for EU health and consumer policy commissioner, Toni Borg, told RT that “the approval of SmartStax maize is expected in September or October.”

The commissioner’s office also told Germany’s Zeit Online that the approval for the maize seeds would come after a “rigorous, scientific evaluation process.”

SmartStax GM maize was developed in the US by Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences. It combines the genes of two already genetically modified maize varieties. SmartStax is resistant to two types of herbicides and poisons against six different species of insects, such as the European corn borer. The seed includes eight artificially added genes – previously, the biggest number of such genes added to a single plant was three.

Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences have been lobbying for SmartStax in Europe for the last five years, having first applied for EU marketing approval in 2008.

In 2010, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that SmartStax was “as safe as conventionally bred maize and commercial versions in regard [to the] potential impact on the health of humans, animals and on the environment.”

A study completed the next year also came to the same conclusion – that SmartStax was safe.

But GM-critical German consulting company Testbiotech has repeatedly criticized EFSA for serious gaps in its safety assessment of SmartStax maize. The original GM varieties of maize that SmartStax was engineered from were tested in a 90-day trial of GM plants being fed to humans. Reportedly, SmartStax has never been scientifically tested on animals in Europe and therefore “the risk assessment performed by the EFSA is actually not adequate to sufficiently exclude adverse effects on humans, animals and the environment,” Testbiotech says on its website.

Independent European experts say that the cultivation of SmartStax is extremely controversial, because long-term tests of the new maize have not been conducted.

“This case shows that decisions made by the Commission on permitting genetically engineered plants in food and feed are not sufficiently based on science but on economic pressure. Just because US companies want unrestricted import of these types of maize into Europe, the EU Commission is continuing the authorization process and refusing to acknowledge the actual risks,” said Christoph Then, a representative of Testbiotech.

“This is a serious threat to consumers and the protection of health and the environment,” said Then, who also is Greenpeace Germany’s expert on agriculture genetic engineering. “No other already approved plant contains so many genetically modified ingredients. It is completely unclear how they interact and what consequences this has long-term.”

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