European Commission to End De Facto Moratorium on
The European Commission (EC) is moving to end its
unofficial 18-month moratorium on genetically modified
(GM) foods, according to the July 22 issue of The
Lancet (vol. 356, No. 9226, pgs. 320-322).
The EC acknowledges that these foods do not pose a
serious threat to public health and plans to expedite
approvals for them as early as the end of this year.
However, the EC plans to tighten labeling requirements
and traceability mechanisms for GM crops prior to
lifting the de facto moratorium.
According to The Lancet, European Commissioner for
Health and Consumer Protection David Byrne said there
was no evidence indicating that GM foods threatened
"There are no guarantees in life. Right around the
world, the scientific evidence is that there is no
problem with GMOs over and above any other food," he
"Our approval system is strictly science based.
Consumers should be assured and informed that we are
paying attention to all questions they have raised."
The Lancet reported that the EC has decided to lift the
de facto moratorium because it fears that biotechnology
companies could win a legal challenge against the ban
and then it would be forced to approve GM products
under existing regulations that it deems inadequate.
Moreover, the EC is concerned that the European Union
will lose to the United States if product development
is stifled there.
Article available free of charge by registering on
The Lancet web site at
and searching under "GM products."
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