EU Commissioner opposes his own expert authority
European Commissioner Starvos Dimas intends to refuse to authorise two genetically modified Bt maize lines, Bt11 and 1507, for cultivation in the EU.
In doing this, he is overriding the expert scientific opinion of the European food safety commission (EFSA). While Dimas is justifying the decision on potential risks to the environment, ESFA claims that cultivation of these Bt maize lines is just as safe as cultivation of normal maize.
The scientific safety assessment is complete, and all the legal requirements for authorisation have been met. Now the European Commission needs to come up with a decision proposal.
The EU legislation on genetic engineering states the Commission should actually follow ESFA’s scientific opinion when making a decision. Dimas is now deviating from this for the first time. He is recommending that the Commission should not
authorise the two Bt maize lines for cultivation.
Dimas justifies his proposal on the grounds of ‘serious indications’ that the cultivation of Bt maize has harmful indications on non-target organisms. In addition, he also claims that there is a risk of changes to the food chain, since caterpillars will be attacked more by parasitoids. Other undesirable consequences of the cultivation of Bt maize would also lead to the pollution of surface rivers and lakes, affecting the aquatic ecosystems. In his opinion, the possible long term risks have not been sufficiently researched, and suitable research methods are not available.