WASHINGTON, July 3, 2013 - The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has declined to allow Syngenta to market the company’s genetically modified, Enogen corn seeds designed with traits specifically for ethanol production. The authority said Syngenta failed to provide sufficient information to insure the seeds were safe.
Syngenta, which submitted the seed for EU approval in 2006, said in a statement that it was "disappointed with the EFSA response," but that it "remains committed to working with EFSA, including providing information based on sound science to allow EFSA to conclude the risk assessment.” The seed-maker said it has submitted all additional studies and expert opinions following state-of-the-art technologies requested by EFSA.
The company said the EFSA’s “inconclusive opinion is not related to the safety of the product. Rather, it means EFSA believes it is missing data to finalize its risk assessment in accordance with its latest standards."
Syngenta characterizes Enogen as a seed with a built-in enzyme that can substantially reduce the energy and water consumed and the carbon emissions associated with ethanol production. The company also says that because it is used exclusively in a contract-based, closed-loop production system, import approvals are primarily for the benefit of ethanol plants that export Dried Distillers Grains with Solubles (DDGS), a premium animal feed product.
The company notes that FDA completed its consultation process for corn amylase (Enogen corn), approving it for human and animal consumption just as conventional corn. The seed brand has been approved for import into more than a dozen other countries.
While finding no risks that could be attributed to specific seed attributes, an EFSA panel said data provided by Syngenta was insufficient to make a comparative assessment of the compositional, agronomic and phenotypic characteristics of the seed.
The EFSA's delay setback comes as the EU engages in an internal policy struggle over the use of food and feed crops in producing biofuels, with some calling for drastic reductions in the production of food-based biofuel feedstocks.
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