BRUSSELS, Nov 19 (Reuters) – EU farm ministers fell short of a consensus agreement on Wednesday to allow imports of a genetically modified (GM) soybean developed by Monsanto (MON.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), paving the way for a default approval, an EU official said.
The soybean, a second-generation GM product known by its code number MON 89788 and commercially as Roundup RReady2Yield, is designed to resist glyphosate Roundup Ready herbicides and produce increased yields for farmers.
Monsanto’s application for European Union approval is for its use in food and feed, not for growing in European fields.
The application will now return to the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, and most probably will receive a default 10-year approval in the coming weeks.
EU law allows for rubber-stamp GMO authorisations when ministers cannot agree after a certain time. Since 2004, the Brussels-based Commission has approved a string of GM products, nearly all maize, in this way, outraging green groups.
Monsanto’s approval request landed on the ministers’ agenda after a meeting of EU national experts in September also failed to reach agreement under the complex EU weighted voting system.
There were 13 countries in favour of approval: Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Netherlands.
Eight voted against — Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and Poland. The rest abstained.
Europe’s livestock and feed manufacturing industries have a keen interest in the EU authorising more soybean imports since they depend heavily on shipments of soy products — beans, meal — as a source of protein-rich and high-quality feed.
EU countries produce a minimal amount of soybeans in terms of overall EU consumption, so imports are crucial. Soybean meal is the primary source of protein for the EU animal feed market, representing more than 60 percent of vegetable protein.