European panel okays GMO rapeseed for human consumption

March 2, 2004, Genetically modified oilseed rape is as safe as conventional oilseed rape, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently announced.

The panel’s declaration that they find no difference between Monsanto’s herbicide tolerant variety of oilseed rape and that grown naturally comes just ahead of the European Union’s expected lifting of the moratorium on the cultivation on bio-engineered crops.

The panel has concluded that the placing on the market - for import, processing and feed use - of the herbicide-tolerant GM oilseed rape GT73 is “unlikely to have an adverse effect on human or animal health or, in the context of its proposed use, on the environment”.

The scientific assessment was initially made by the Netherlands and subsequently evaluated by all other member states. However, questions raised by several member states led the Commission to ask the EFSA for a further risk assessment on the GT73 oilseed rape.

The main questions raised by member states included the possible allergenic risk associated with GT73 and concerns regarding pesticide residues.

The GT73 oilseed rape has been genetically modified to provide tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate. The stated purpose of the modification is to allow farmers to manage weeds more effectively in oilseed rape fields during cultivation.