EU environment experts failed to muster enough support recently to approve a genetically modified rapeseed, officials said, despite the recent end of an informal biotech ban that had irked the EU’s top trade partners.

“We had a vote and it was not conclusive,” an official at the European Commission said.

The experts’ all-day meeting came just one month after the EU formally ended its de facto moratorium on new biotech products by approving imports of a GMO maize type.

The lack of a decision on approving imports of GT73 rapeseed, made by US biotech giant Monsanto, means the matter passes to ministers, most likely environmental ministers from the European Union’s 25 member states.

Under the bloc’s complex decision-making process, they will now have three months to debate the proposal, which was put forward by the Commission - the EU’s executive arm.

If they cannot agree, the Commission may adopt its own proposal.

Monsanto’s requested use is for animal feed and industrial processing, not for growing. GT73 rapeseed is altered to resist the non-selective herbicide glyphosate, making it easier for farmers to manage weeds effectively.

The vote was the first time that the EU’s 10 new member states, mostly from central and eastern Europe, had revealed what they think about GMOs in food.

Several of the new joiners voted against approving the rapeseed: Estonia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta and Poland. They were joined in their opposition by Denmark, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria and Britain.

Slovenia abstained, as did Germany, Spain and Ireland.

The remainder of the 25 member states voted in favor.

“The most important thing for us is (the position of) the new member states. “New” Europe is blocking GMOs just as “old” Europe did,” said Geert Ritsema at Friends of the Earth Europe,

“The United States cannot count on the new member states to support their GMO policy, which they may have hoped,” he said.

The meeting was also closely watched to see if the EU’s 25 states would treat each new GMO application case by case or begin approving each application with a minimum of fuss after the EU lifted its GMO moratorium in May. (Reuters)