European ministers have again failed to approve the use of Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) maize in food, although the European Commission (EC) has authorised its NK603 maize for use in animal feed. A separate decision on its approval for use in food is to be taken later this year.
The GM maize has already been passed as safe by the European Food Safety Authority and is already in use in other parts of the world. It will be subject to the new labelling and traceability rules introduced last April.
At the same time the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has released its timetable for the consultation process on the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops.
Environment Minister Elliot Morley says: "We are keen to engage with stakeholders to find the best way forward on this issue. We do not expect GM crops to be grown here commercially for some time, but we need to have clear co-existence arrangements in place beforehand. Our aim is to have measures in place next year."
DEFRA plans a two-stage consultation process. First will be a series of workshops over the summer and early autumn to discuss the overall issues, including: co-existence measures needed at farm level; the threshold for GM presence in relation to organic production; and on establishing voluntary GM-free zones. The second phase will be a consultation paper in the autumn, after which the government will put in place the required arrangements.