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Brussels lifts EU ban on GM food

Would you buy genetically modified sweetcorn?
Genetic modification

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Union has agreed to end a five-year-old ban on genetically modified foods.

The EU's executive body, the European Commission, has authorized imports of a biotech maize, officials say.

The commission agreed to allow imports of the maize, known as Bt-11 and marketed by Swiss agrochemicals giant Syngenta, to be sold as tinned sweetcorn on supermarket shelves across the 25-member bloc.

The cans must be clearly labelled as containing GM products.

A number of other companies are expected to try to follow Syngenta. The EU is analyzing another 33 applications for the breeding or cultivation of GM crops in Europe.

The decision on whether to lift the moratorium in place since 1999 was passed back to the commission after EU member states failed last month to break a deadlock on the issue.

Under EU rules, after successive failures of governments to reach a deal, the decision rested with Brussels, which has already pioneered new legislation in readiness for the marketing of GM food.

Environmentalists complain that there is little appetite among Europeans for genetically-modified foods, and that the safety of GM products has yet to be conclusively proven.

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