The European Commission (EC) has approved a genetically modified (GM) soyabean produced by Bayer for food and feed use in the EU, Euractiv reported on 1 October.

The XtendFlex soyabean was authorised for food and feed use, but not cultivation, following a comprehensive authorisation procedure, including a scientific assessment by the European Food Safety Authority, Euractiv said.

German agrichemicals firm Bayer, the soyabean had been developed to confer tolerance to three major herbicides: dicamba, glufosinate-ammonium and glyphosate, Euractiv said.

XtendFlex was Bayer’s newest soyabean and built on a previous GM variety with an added tolerance to glufosinate.

This meant that growers ‘are provided with additional flexibility and tools to help manage tough to control and resistant weeds,’ a Bayer representative told Euractiv.

“With this authorisation, Bayer now looks forward to a full launch in the United States and Canada in 2021.”

However, the decision to authorise imports of the variety was ‘hugely disappointing’ Green MEP Tilly Metz told Euractiv, adding that the Commission had ‘failed to listen to the arguments of the European Parliament and to a majority of member states who voted against this GM soyabean in particular’.

“The new Commission clearly understands that the import of herbicide herbicide-tolerant GMOs, particularly GM soyabeans which could be grown in countries such as Brazil and Argentina, risk undermining the EU’s international commitments for climate including on the protection of forests and biodiversity,” she was quoted as saying.

Metz also had concerns that these crops could be exposed to both higher and repeated doses of the complementary herbicides, which would potentially lead to a higher quantity of residues in the harvest as well as a higher risk for the sprayer.

Eric Gall, policy manager at EU organics association IFOAM, said that contamination at the production stage was not a direct concern for organic agriculture in the EU as the soyabean had been authorised for use in food and feed, rather than cultivation on EU territory.

However, he shared her concerns that importing this crop into the EU market might lead to increased pesticide use outside of the EU.