On 14 February 1997 Austria prohibited the use of the Bt-genetically modified maize on its territory. The French Authorities had on 5 February 1997 granted their consent for the placing on the European market of the maize, which had been authorized by the Commission in December 1996. On 17 March 1997 Luxembourg informed the Commission that it had also banned the use of the Bt-maize. As foreseen by Article 16 of Directive 90/220, both Member States gave reasons for their action. The reasons given by Luxembourg were the same as those given by Austria.
After initial examination by the Commission services, the Commission requested the opinion of the three Scientific Committees which had originally evaluated the safety of the product in question (Scientific Committee for Food, Scientific Committee for Animal Nutrition, and Scientific Committee on Pesticides). The three Scientific Committees examined the information submitted by Austria, and adopted their Opinions on 21 March 1997, 10 April 1997 and 12 May 1997. The Committees confirmed that:
In light of these Opinions, the Commission decided on 10 September 1997 See IP/97/784 to submit to the Regulatory Committee under Directive 90/220 proposals requesting Austria and Luxembourg to repeal their national measures which banned the use of the Bt-maize on their territory.
Following the failure of the Regulatory Committee to deliver an opinion, the Commission will now submit the draft proposals to the Council of Ministers for decision. According to the procedures foreseen by Directive 90/220, the Council must act within three months from the date of referral.
In line with its earlier decision, the Commission has given priority to the work of a Group of Experts appointed by Member State Authorities, with the aim of elaborating a draft Protocol for monitoring insect resistance to Bt-maize. The work of the Group has been completed and the draft Protocol will be discussed by the Scientific Committee on Plants at its next meeting, due to take place in May. The Commission had informed Member States of the results of the Expert Group prior to the Committee vote.