WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Following its proposal allowing E.U. member states to not import food with biotech traits, the European Commission on April 24 approved 17 biotechnology traits for import, including high-oleic soybeans.

Along with the Plenish and Vistive Gold soybean varieties, the E.U. approved dicamba-tolerant and omega-3 soybeans, all of which have been in the E.U. approval process for multiple years. High-oleic soybeans will give food processors the frying and baking qualities they need in an oil without the need for partial hydrogenation, which produces trans fats.

“On the one hand, we’re happy to see these traits finally receive commission approval after years of delay,” said Richard Wilkins, American Soybean Association (ASA) first vice-president. “On the other hand, however, this announcement means little if the E.U. persists in its current unscientific and delayed approval process for new varieties developed through biotechnology. Today more than 40 additional GM applications for import, submitted by various companies, remain pending in the E.U. system.”

Wilkins also said allowing member states to “opt-out” of importing food with biotech traits is a giant step backwards.

“We believe that if that proposal is adopted, it would be in clear violation of the E.U.’s obligations under the World Trade Organization and would negatively impact U.S. soy exports to Europe,” Wilkins said. “Again, any time we see the progress of modern agricultural biotechnology furthered by an approval for import in a foreign market, that’s a step forward, and our farmers benefit. But on the whole, this week has shown that we still have a long way to go in Europe.”