The European Union approved imports of an insect-resistant corn on Wednesday, ending a six-year ban on genetically modified foods.

The corn, from the Swiss-based company Syngenta, is known as bt11 sweet maize. It is resistant to the corn borer pest.

Under the new EU import rules, any biotech canned or fresh corn must be clearly labelled as harvested from a genetically modified plant, said the EU Commission in a release.

"[The corn] has been scientifically assessed as being as safe as any conventional maize," said EU Health Commissioner David Byrne.

"Food safety is therefore not an issue, it is a question of consumer choice."

Biotech food opponents say there is no consumer support for genetically modified food.

EU governments were split on whether to lift the ban following a challenge from the United States, leaving the decision to the European Commission, the EU's executive body.

The decision applies to all 25 EU countries for 10 years.

Syngenta is the world's largest producer of crop chemicals.