The European Commission (EC) has delayed a proposal to establish labelling thresholds for contamination of conventional seed by genetically modified (GM) product while at same time approving the sale of another 17 GM maize varieties in the European Union (EU).
The EC had hoped to introduce a 0.3% GM threshold above which GM-contaminated seed would have to be labelled as such, but it withdrew the proposal after opposition by MEPs.
Green lobby group Friends of the Earth said that 0.3% was too high and would mean that thousands of GM oilseed rape seeds could be planted inadvertently.
However, the biotech industry, wanted "workable thresholds", said Simon Barber, director of the European Association for Bio-industries. He said it was "disappointed with the outcome, having worked with the Commission over five years to establish practicable and workable thresholds"
He did, however, welcome the addition of new GM maize varieties to the EU's Common Seed catalogue.
"Absolute purity is just not possible in the production of seed," said Barber. "To allow the present unrealistic, unclear and legally disputable national legislation to remain is irresponsible."
The EC had planned additional research into the impact of seed labelling, but a decision is now not likely to be reached before the Commission ends its five-year mandate in October.