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Austria's biotech seed bans face renewed EU legal challenge

Austria outlawed Monsanto Co.'s gene-modified MON810 corn and Bayer CropScience AG's T25 corn, both engineered to tolerate specific herbicides, on the grounds that the crops may be an environmental or human health hazard. The commission, the EU's executive arm, said in a statement from Brussels yesterday that it's also considering challenges to six bans in other EU countries. Last year, the European Union's highest court overruled appeals by Austria and the region of Upper Austria two years after the commission ordered an end to the restrictions. Other countries that have imposed bans, including Germany, France and Greece, have invoked safety clauses in European law to prevent biotech products being sown. Under the EU's rules for approving genetically engineered seeds for cultivation, a majority of the bloc's 25 governments must give their backing for the crops. If they fail to do so, the commission can make a final decision. All 10 products approved for cultivation in the EU since a six-year moratorium ended in 2004 have been given the green light after the commission acted alone. (Bloomberg)