The possibility of new biotech crops being cultivated in the EU has become more likely as member states have failed to block the authorisation of two new transgenic corn varieties in a regulatory committee qualified majority system vote. The requests will now be passed to the council of ministers where, if there is still no majority opposing them, they will be approved by default.
The split vote could be indicative of decreasing hostility towards biotechnology and may lead to the first new approval of a biotech crop for EU cultivation since 1999. Nevertheless, on 2 March 2009, EU environment ministers voted against the European Commission’s proposal to end Austria and Hungary’s national bans on genetically modified crops. Those representing the biotech industry have called the vote ‘incomprehensible’ and a spokesperson for the Commission has said that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that biotech products are dangerous.