Commission rebuked over EU GM delays

Emily O’Reilly, the European Ombudsman, has upheld a complaint against the European Commission over its handling of authorisation applications for GM food and feed crops for import and processing.  

The complaint was submitted by three organisations representing the biotechnology industry (EuropaBio), grain traders (Coceral) and feed manufacturers (Fefac). The three have welcomed the decision. 

Ms O’Reilly decided that between 2012 and 2014, the Commission did not meet the three-month deadline for submitting draft decisions to the Standing Committee. It also failed to make decisions within a reasonable time after the Appeal Committee did not deliver an opinion.  

The Commission had acknowledged on several occasions its systematic failure to comply with the three month deadline. For products approved in 2015, this phase alone took over 16 months instead of 3 months as required by law. “The Commission unilaterally caused a de facto moratorium from late 2013 to spring 2015 and admitted that ‘if the result of the vote in the Appeal Committee is “No opinion”, the Commission is required by the GMO legal framework and by the Charter of Fundamental Rights to adopt a decision on the application’,” notes the lobby, describing the delays as illegal and unreasonable.

EuropaBio, Coceral and Fefac say they are pleased the Commission is once again approving EFSA risk-assessed GM events for food and feed imports within reasonable time limits, but point out that there are currently more than 40 GMO applications for the import of GM grain pending in the system. They continue to press for a functioning, evidence-based EU policy on GMOs in Europe.