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Advisory reports 19.12.2008

Cultivation of herbicide tolerant maize line GA21

(081219-02)

This notification concerns the cultivation of genetically modified maize line GA21. The maize line harbors the gene mepsps which confers tolerance to herbicides containing the active ingredient glyphosate. Previously, COGEM concluded that there were no indications that import of GA21 posed risks to the environment.
In the Netherlands, no wild relatives of maize are present and establishment of maize plants in the wild has never been observed. There are no reasons to assume that the inserted traits will increase the potential of the maize line to establish feral populations. In addition, the appearance of volunteers is very rare under Dutch conditions.
The molecular characterization has been updated, and changes to previous analysis were compared. In addition, COGEM is of the opinion that the molecular analysis does not fully meet her criteria. However, for the environmental risk analysis, the flaws in the molecular analysis are of relatively little importance. Field experiments and experience in cultivation are more indicative for the occurrence of possible effects on the environment. Since ten years, cultivation of GA21 is authorized in the United States, Canada and Argentina and no adverse effects have been reported. It should be noted however that monitoring is not obligatory in these countries. Moreover, the European Union has authorized the use of GA21 for food and feed purposes.
In the opinion of COGEM the general surveillance plan should be elaborated more.
In view of the above, COGEM is of the opinion that the cultivation of maize line GA21 poses a negligible risk to the environment.

COGEM is surprised by the fact that this dossier contains confidential molecular information which is crucial for the risk analysis. COGEM believes that this crucial information should be available to the public. Only if information is publicly available, public trust can be maintained.
 COGEM is of the opinion that EFSA should reconsider its policy towards confidentiality of data provided by the applicant.