EU ambassadors failed to approve a genetically-modified maize made by Swiss firm Syngenta in talks on Friday, meaning the application will now be sent to EU ministers for a decision next week.
There is no qualified majority either in favour or against, so it will go straight to Council next week, an EU official said after the talks.
Animal feed importers say approval of the GMO maize type MIR604 is crucial for the resumption of imports of soybean and soymeal needed by livestock farmers.
Genetically modified food is a sensitive issue in many EU countries and has become a point of diplomatic tension.
This summer, over 200,000 tonnes of soybean and soymeal were refused entry to EU ports, largely in Spain, because they contained small amounts of GMO corn (maize) varieties not approved in Europe.
(Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Keiron Henderson)