Recently, the European Commission (EC) authorised seven genetically modified crops (3 maize, 2 soybeans, 1 oilseed rape and 1 cotton) and renewed the authorisations for two maize and one oilseed rape crops used for food and animal feed.
All of these GMOs have gone through a comprehensive and stringent authorisation procedure, including a favourable scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority. The authorisation decisions do not cover cultivation.
Member States did not reach a qualified majority either in favour or against at the Standing Committee and at the subsequent Appeal Committee.
The European Commission has therefore the legal duty to proceed with the authorisations in line with the scientific advice received.
The authorisations are valid for 10 years, and any product produced from these GMOs will be subject to the EU's strict labelling and traceability rules.
Food and feed generally originate from plants and animals grown and bred by humans for several thousand years. Over time, those plants and animals with the most desirable characteristics were chosen for breeding the next generations of food and feed. This was, for example, the case for plants with increased resistance to environmental pressures such as diseases or with an increased yield.
These desirable characteristics appeared through naturally occurring variations in the genetic make-up of those plants and animals. In recent times, it has become possible to modify the genetic make-up of living cells and organisms using techniques of modern biotechnology called gene technology. The genetic material is modified artificially to give it a new property (e.g. a plant's resistance to disease, insect or drought, a plant's tolerance to a herbicide, improving a food's quality or nutritional value, increased yield).
Such organisms are called "genetically modified organisms" (GMOs). Food and feed which contain or consist of such GMOs, or are produced from GMOs, are called "genetically modified (GM) food or feed".
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