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Brussels okays four GMO products

The European Commission has authorized four genetically modified products for the European market after EU member states failed to decide either for or against the biotech crops.

EU member states in September failed to agree by majority on whether or not to authorize the GMOs proposed by the commission for the EU market. According to EU rules, in that case the commission is empowered to take the final decision on the basis of an assessment from the European Food and Safety Agency (EFSA). The commission has authorized the GMOs in all such cases so far.

„The commission normally stands by its original proposal,” a commission spokesman said on Wednesday. „All of the GMOs received positive safety assessments from EFSA and underwent the full authorization procedure set out under EU legislation…[and] will be subject to the EU’s strict labeling and tractability rules,” the commission said in a statement. There are currently 15 authorized GMO products in the 27-member bloc - including the latest four biotech products- while an authorization for a genetically modified potato is pending.

European farmers, industrial food and chemical producers have been complaining that the EU’s stringent position against GMOs created a disadvantage for them against their foreign competitors. On the other hand, recent surveys have shown that around 70% of Europeans are against GMOs which are seen as unnatural, with some people arguing the effects of genetically modified organisms are not fully known yet. The EU had a moratorium on allowing GMOs on its market from 2000 to 2004. In 2006, the World Trade Organization ruled that the EU was unfairly blocking GMOs from entering its markets. (Original article: EUobserver)