Genetically modified (GM) crops may be continuing to advance on two continents. In Europe, the European Union is on the verge of letting member countries decide on their own about GM crops. And Australia-New Zealand is asking the public for comment on a GM cotton variety being considered for approval down under.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is inviting both individual and organization comments on the GM cotton application until Monday, Aug. 16. The application is for a cotton variety that has been genetically modified to confer insect protection and herbicide tolerance.
FSANZ has approved more than 40 such applications for food derived from GM crops. Highlights of the latest application include:
Application A1040 – Assessment – Food derived from insect-protected and herbicide-tolerant cotton line GHB119
Bayer CropScience Pty Ltd has sought approval for the sale of food derived from a genetically modified (GM) variety of cotton (GHB119).
This cotton variety is protected against feeding damage by Lepidopteran insect larvae and tolerant to herbicides containing glufosinate ammonium. FSANZ is required to conduct an evaluation of food safety and nutritional issues before this GM cotton can be used in the food supply.
FSANZ has concluded that food derived from cotton GHB119 is as safe for human consumption as that derived from conventional cotton varieties, and intends to approve it for sale in Australia and New Zealand.
Submissions: FSANZ welcomes public comment from industry, public health professionals, government agencies, and consumers. Details of the Assessment Report for Application 1040 can be found on www.foodstandards.gov.au.
While Australia and New Zealand have approved more than 40 of 150 GM crops that are being grown worldwide, only two have received the green light from the European Union. The latest EU approval came after a 12-year drought.
Now that drought may be ending as negotiations within the European Commission appear to be headed toward giving the EU’s current power on GM crops back to the member states. The “states rights” deal would mean individual countries would be able to decide for themselves whether to approve or ban GM crops.
Currently, the EU assigns GM crop applications to an expert panel from multiple states and requires a majority vote for approval. Deadlocks can be passed up to EU ministers, and even the EU Commission. The system has been a killing ground for GM applications.
Under the new proposal, member states would have the power to permit or prohibit the cultivation of GM crops that win scientific approval and final decisions by country could be based on economic, social, or ethical reasons.