The European Union's de facto moratorium on genetically modified (GM) crop and food approvals has finally come to an end.

On May 19, the European Commission approved Syngenta's GM pest-resistant sweet corn (Bt-11) for food use in the European Union. This is the first new approval since mid-1998. The commission's ruling breaks the deadlock after both the European Union's GM Regulatory Committee and the EU Council of Ministers failed to reach a decision on the safety of Bt-11.

Despite the symbolic significance of the moratorium ending, the reaction from the biotech industry has been restrained.

“It is a step forward, but not really a very big one,” Johan Vanhemelrijck, secretary general of EuropaBio, the European Association for Bioindustries, told The Scientist.

Vanhemelrijck was keen to emphasize that this is simply an approval for food use of sweet corn already grown elsewhere. It does not approve any new crops...

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