The European Commission gave the okay for the use of Monsantoâ€™s Roundup ReadyÂ® Corn NK603 and its processed products as food and food ingredients under the Novel Foods Regulation. Monsantoâ€™s NK603, which is designed to be tolerant to the active ingredient in the RoundupÂ® family of agricultural herbicides, is currently marketed as Roundup Ready Corn 2 in the United States.
With this decision, the European Union (EU) authorizes the use of NK603 for human consumption. At the same time, the decision completes the necessary steps for allowing the import, processing and use of NK603 grain in animal feed in the EU, which was announced in July 2004. Todayâ€™s decision will be published in the Official Journal of the EU in the coming weeks. The European Commissionâ€™s decision does not include the approval of Roundup Ready Corn 2 for cultivation in the EU, which is the subject of a separate submission.
"Todayâ€™s decision is great news for the more than 200 seed companies and tens of thousands of U.S. farmers who plant biotech-enhanced corn hybrids," says Kerry Preete, Vice President of U.S. Crop Production for Monsanto. "We remain hopeful that this decision is a signal that the European Communities and its Member States are serious about ending the moratorium on biotech approvals."
"The European Commissionâ€™s decision is a welcome step forward, although long overdue, and supports the National Corn Growers Associationâ€™s goal of providing information about and promoting acceptance of biotechnology," says Leon Corzine, President of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). "Biotechnology continues to be one of NCGAâ€™s key priorities and this decision is certainly encouraging for U.S. corn growers."
In light of todayâ€™s decision, growers who planted Roundup Ready Corn 2 hybrids (single trait, not stacked traits) are encouraged to check with their local grain handler regarding that facilityâ€™s buying policy.
Monsanto is currently awaiting decisions on separate submissions for its corn trait technologies combined with NK603. Until these separate submissions within the EU regulatory process are complete, growers planting hybrids containing Roundup Ready Corn 2 with YieldGard insect-protected technologies will need to market the grain under the Market ChoicesÂ® certification mark.
The Market Choices certification mark identifies those hybrids that are fully approved for food and feed use in the United States and Japan, but are still awaiting the necessary approvals in the European Union. Growers that plant Market Choices hybrids must use appropriate markets for this grain including domestic feed use or work with grain handlers who specifically agree to accept the grain and handle it appropriately. Growers should contact their local seed dealers and grain handlers for more stewardship details.
Since Roundup Ready corn technology was first introduced in the United States in 1998, growers have realized numerous on-farm benefits including simpler and better weed control. The Roundup Ready system also encourages the adoption of conservation tillage practices, which reduces soil erosion, improves water quality and wildlife habitat, while optimizing yields.
The benefits of the technology continue to serve as a primary driver for adoption. Monsantoâ€™s year-end sales data for 2004 highlight that acres planted with Roundup Ready corn rose for a seventh consecutive season in the United States. Roundup Ready corn technology is estimated to have been planted on more than 16 million acres this season, up from 12 million acres in 2003.