GenØk questions the Norwegian Environment Agency’s recommendation to not ban GM maize (1507) and four GM carnations


The Norwegian Environment Agency recommends lifting the restrictions on the import and use of the genetically modified (GM) maize 1507. GenØk has previously published input regarding the renewal of the current approval in the EU, but not submitted a full assessment of the 1507 application. As of today, the renewal of maize 1507 has not received final approval in EFSA.

The GM maize line 1507 contains the insecticidal protein Cry1F and a gene (PAT), which provides tolerance to the herbicide glufosinate-ammonium. Although we do not cultivate this GM maize in Norway, there are several relevant factors to consider; e.g. that the herbicide glufosinate ammonium, which this plant is resistant to, was banned from the Norwegian market in 2009.

Maize line 1507 has been considered not to cause an increased health risk compared to non-transgenic maize (VKM (Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety) assessment of maize 1507). When it comes to health and environmental risks, GenØk argues that there are important issues related to;

  • Accumulation of the herbicide glufosinate-ammonium and its breakdown products in maize intended for use in food and feed
  • Health, environment and safety issues for farmers cultivating land using the herbicide
  • Long term environmental effects on cultivation land
  • Development of herbicide resistance in weeds
  • Development of resistance in insect pests against Cry1f

GenØk has also commented that there is no information in the application on the localization of the transgenic construct. The application also lacks information on whether there have been effect studies on organisms in different environments, such as soil and water. In a Norwegian context, it will also be important to perform feeding studies on salmon, as an approval may lead to this product being used in feed. Such studies are currently missing.

In Norway, maize is a product used in food and feed. Globally, around 30% of all maize is genetically modified. It is therefore not difficult to get access to non-GM corn for the Norwegian market. GenØk therefore sees no societal benefit for the use of GM maize 1507 in Norway.

GenØk questions the basis for the Norwegian Environment Agency’s recommendation not to ban the genetically modified maize line 1507 in Norway based on missing documentation of effects on the environment, health and society.

The Norwegian Environment Agency has also recommended lifting the restrictions on the import and use of four GM carnations.GenØk has not previously assessed these carnation varieties (Moonaqua, Moonlite, Moonberry and Moonvelvet), which have all been modified for flower color. These flowers are recommended for import to be used as cut flowers and will not be used in food or feed.

GenØk has previously stated that we do not support an approval of a different variety of GM carnation based on the small degree of societal benefit to Norway.

The approved carnations will provide consumers with a wider range of carnations. However, it is unclear to what extent there will be a demand for purple carnations among Norwegian consumers, and if this will result in increased employment (import and trade) and thus social benefit for Norway. There is no information as to whether the cultivation and production of this type of carnation has led to increased employment and other socio-economic effects in growing countries. This lack of information makes it difficult to see how this type of carnations may be contributing to sustainability and social benefit in those countries.

All four GM carnations contain a gene that gives them increased resistance to chlorsulfuron, a herbicide, which here is used as selection marker in the selection of the plants that have been genetically modified. This herbicide will not be used during the production of the carnations.

GenØk agrees with the Norwegian Environment Agency that these types of carnations do not pose any risk to health and the environment when imported to Norway.

Foto: diosmirnov/