19 votes against (France, Italy, Hungary, Greece, Romania, Poland, the Netherlands, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia), 5 in favor (Spain, the UK, Finland, Estonia, Sweden) and 4 abstentions (Germany, Portugal, Czech Republic, Belgium): This is the result of the European Union’s Council on GM maize 1507 developed by Pioneer HI Breed and Mycogen Seeds to produce the Bacillus thurigiensis Cry1F, a toxin designed to defeat the European maize borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) and be resistant against the herbicide glufosinate ammonia.
This is a remarkable number, but not high enough to obtain a qualified majority: 210 votes out of 260 would have been necessary to block the approval of GM maize 1507. Nevertheless, on January 16, 2014, the European Parliament rejected what would have been the EU’s second GM crop approved for cultivation, with 385 votes against the authorization: 201 in favor and 30 abstentions. With today’s vote, the situation is de facto back in the hands of the Commission. If the Commission authorizes the cultivation of this seed, it would ignore the opinion of the majority of member states by not respecting the opposition and the concerns regarding the legal impacts of maize 1507.
“If the Commission decides not to respect the clear directions of the EU Parliament and Council, it would erode the most basic democratic principles”, declared Slow Food president Carlo Petrini. “The institution responsible for the final decision cannot ignore the opinion of the other European institutions involved, or of the public. The European Commission has to free itself from the controlling power of the lobbies and biotechnological companies, the only ones who clearly care about the possibility of selling their GM seeds”.
Some background information:
The GM maize 1507 was developed by Pioneer HI Breed and Mycogen Seeds to produce the Bacillus thurigiensis Cry1F, a toxin designed to defeat the European maize borer (Ostrinia nubilalis) and be resistant against the herbicide glufosinate ammonia.
The disapproval of this kind of cultivation, held by civil society and supported by the organizations Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, IFOAM EU Group, Euro Coop and Slow Food, is based on a wide range of scientific, political and legal reasons.
In 2009 Pioneer Hi-Bred took the European Union to court forcing it to send the GM maize for a vote in the European Council.
In 2013, after the court ruled that the European Commission had failed to act, the Commission put 1507 forward for the decision for approval in the Council. On 6 November, 2013, the European Commission drafted a proposal with major legal gaps, asking national ministers to decide about the cultivation of the maize on Europe’s fields.
For more information about Pioneer’s maize 1507 read Friends of the Earth Europe’s background information.