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Brussels, 18 February 2004

Decision on GM maize NK603 to be referred to Council

Following today's vote in the Regulatory Committee on the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment, the decision to authorise the import and processing of the genetically modified maize known as NK603 will pass on to the Council of Ministers. The Committee, which is set up under Directive 2001/18 and representing the Member States, did not reach the qualified majority necessary to support the Commission proposal. The Commission will now, in the coming weeks, formally adopt the proposal to be sent to the Council of Ministers. The Council can either adopt or reject the proposal with a qualified majority. If no decision is taken after three months, the file returns to the Commission which can then adopt it.

If authorized, the maize, which has been modified for increased tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate, would be clearly labelled as containing GM maize. It would only be allowed for import after 18 April 2004, when the new EU rules on GMOs enter into application, and after the authorisation for food uses of NK603 has been granted as part of the new EU GM Food legislation.

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