EC forced to reopen 2015 decision on allowing GMO soy imports

14 Mar 2018 | Rei Geyssens

The EU Commission has been forced to revisit a 2015 decision to allow the import of genetically-modified soybeans after a court rules it breached a technicality on deciding that the modified oilseed had no impact on human or animal health or on the environment.

The European Court of Justice said Wednesday the EU executive must review whether the EU’s food and safety body should have consulted with non-governmental organisations when declaring GMO oilseeds fit for consumption in 2015.

An executive director for the complainant company – Berlin-based anti-GMO lobby group TestBiotech – told Agricensus that the internal review on the environmental impact of GMO beans would now be reopened.

“We are using the law to increase the level of protection but importing these [genetically modified] soybeans will be a political decision in the end,” Christoph Then said.

“The current risk assessment is not in accordance with the law and there are gaps in it,” he added.

In November 2015, the EC rejected an application by TestBiotech to review a decision by its food safety body to allow genetically modified soybeans in the EU market because the body did not consult with civil society - as required under the Aarhus Regulation.

The Aarhus Regulation enables environmental NGOs to take part in the decision-making process on certain plans and programmes relating to the environment.

That 2015 rejection has now been overruled by the ECJ, which in turn will lead to the review of the EU’s decision to allow the use of genetically modified soybean in the European market.

However, despite the success of the case, Then said it would be a long process to change the 2015 EU law.

Testbiotech has two other cases running at the European court advocating against the imports of genetically engineered soybeans, one developed by Monsanto and a second one developed by Bayer.