Reuters — The European Commission on Friday approved imports of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend genetically modified soybeans, opening up an important export market for North American soybeans and easing their global rollout.
The decision removes a hurdle for Monsanto in its dealings with farmers and grain traders, who have to keep track of whether crops with new biotech traits have approval in major overseas markets. It follows a Chinese approval for imports of the soybeans earlier this year.
The Commission also gave a green light for a type of GM soybeans sold by Germany’s Bayer CropScience. The EU executive took action after EU member states failed to reach an agreement on whether to licence them.
U.S. seed company Monsanto’s genetically modified products and weed-killer are politically sensitive in Europe, where consumer and green groups have campaigned against them over potential health and environmental risks.
The Commission’s approval will allow these GMO soybeans to be used in food or animal feed, but not for growing crops.
“Any products produced from these GMOs will be subject to the EU’s strict labelling and traceability rules,” the Commission said in a statement.
The EU already imports tens of million tonnes of GMO crops and products every year for use in animal feed.
Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean seeds are genetically engineered to resist the herbicides glyphosate and dicamba. It is being sold for the first time in the United States and Canada this year.