Authorisation of GMOs

  • Before the GM Food and Feed Regulation came into force, ten plant lines with potential use in animal feed had been licensed for commercialisation in the EU under EC Directive 2001/18 on the deliberate release into the environment of GMOs (the Deliberate Release Directive). Five of these authorisations were revoked in March 2007 following their owners' decision to withdraw the products from the market. Another fifteen plant lines have since been authorised by the Commission under the GM Food and Feed Regulation.

  • There are therefore twenty-three GMOs that have been authorised under the Regulation for possible use in feed in the EU. This list includes seventeen varieties of maize, two varieties of soya bean, and one variety each of oilseed rape, sugar beet, cotton and potato. These varieties have been produced to have resistance to certain herbicides or insect pests or, in some cases, both, except for the potato which has an enhanced starch content. Further details of these varieties are given in the register on the Commission's website, available through the link at the bottom of this page.


  • All of these GM varieties have been authorised for import and processing. Only three of them – the starch potato and two of the maize varieties – have been licensed for cultivation, although one of the maizes cannot be grown in the EU because it has still to be included in the Common Catalogue of approved seed varieties. 

  • Small quantities of the other maize are currently grown commercially in the Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain, but the seed is not marketed in the UK. The potato is currently grown in the Czech Republic, Germany and Sweden, but will not be grown in the UK because it does not have the required starch processing facilities.

  • When the GM Food and Feed Regulation came into force, there were several products on the European market derived from plant lines that had not been authorised under the Deliberate Release Directive because there had been no intention to commercialise the plants themselves in the EU. All were granted temporary authorisation under the GM Food and Feed Regulation pending their evaluation by EFSA and decisions on their continued use. Five of them have since been authorised under the Regulation, and are included in the list given earlier. Temporary authorisation therefore continues for five varieties of cotton, five varieties of maize, two varieties of oilseed rape, one variety of soya bean and two microorganisms (one variety of yeast and a bacterial strain). This means that there is a total of 38 GMOs that have been authorised or are having the authorisations renewed.

  • A larger number of GM plant lines, including varieties of maize, soya, oilseed rape, cotton and rice that have not received marketing consents in the EU, have been approved for growing elsewhere in the world, particularly major commodity-exporting countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, India and the USA. In general, the EU's authorisation procedures for new GM varieties tend to be slower than those of other countries, a time-lag known as 'asynchronous authorisation'.