European Union biotech experts agreed to end checks on imported US corn for an illegal biotech strain, almost two years after having launched the special measures. Experts said it’s been more than a year since US corn tested positive for an illegal insect-resistant strain made by Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta AG and known as Bt10.
“The last case of Bt10 detected in the US was in early November 2005 and Syngenta…has taken a series of measures to ensure that this GMO is no longer propagated,” the European Commission said in a statement following the vote.
In March 2005, US-grown corn containing genetically modified corn made by Syngenta was found in shipments bound for Europe, where the modified strain is illegal. Syngenta accidentally had sold the unauthorized strain to farmers exporting to Europe. Europe imposed strict screening requirements on corn imports the following month.
The screening requirements have been expensive. Syngenta last year put aside about $50 million to fund the tests. Europe will continue random testing for six months as a precaution, the commission said in a statement. US exporters send 3.5 million tons of corn gluten feed to EU markets each year, a trade worth about EUR350 million.
Instances of contamination of crops by biotech strains are growing in number. Last year, Europe slammed control requirements against rice imports from the US after shipments were found to contain an unauthorized biotech strain made by German biochemical company Bayer. (Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)