EU health commission: Monsanto strain won’t be banned

Members of the "Occupy" movement in the Midwest protest against Monsanto's agricultural practices in front of the Missouri Botanical Garden during the "Occupy the Midwest" regional conference in St. Louis, Missouri March 16, 2012 (Reuters/Sarah Conard)
Invincible agricultural giant Monsanto has once again demonstrated its ability to crush countries on the legal battlefield. The EFSA has ruled there is no “scientific evidence” of damage caused by consuming genetically-modified maize.

­France is the latest country to try and battle Monsanto over its genetically-modified corn. In February it requested that the European Commission ban the MON 810 strain from EU markets, supporting the request with scientific argumentation. While awaiting the decision, French government unilaterally reinstalled a ban on MON 810, though the country’s highest court had earlier ruled in favor of Monsanto.

It took the European Food Safety Authority three months to come to a quite predictable conclusion – that the strain poses no threat, and will not be banned.

“Based on the documentation submitted by France, there is no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment,” the EFSA’s scientific opinion suggests.

­The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) provides the European Commission with independent scientific advice on all matters with a direct or indirect impact on food safety. It is a separate legal entity, independent from other EU institutions.

­The EU health commission has decided to follow this “independent scientific advice” and now faces a problem of how to push France to raise its ban.

“The commission will wait for the conclusions of the next environment ministers’ meeting June 11 in Luxembourg and hopes for a positive outcome to its proposals for cultivation, which have been blocked for almost two years by France and others,” said spokesman Frederic Vincent as cited by AFP.

MON 810 is known by its trade name, YieldGuard. It was modified genetically in order to insert a bacteria into its DNA structure, allowing YieldGuard to be promoted as resistant to insect pests that damage harvests. However, according to many experts, it can be dangerous for plants and animals.

France is by far not the only country attempting to get rid of Monsanto’s maize. Five other EU countries – Germany, Greece, Austria, Luxembourg and Hungary – also imposed ban on MON 810 cultivation.

But in the US, the billion-dollar corporation's home, only the protesters in the streets seem to care. In March, thousands of people joined the Occupy Monsanto movement and marched through Washington, DC, Seattle, and Los Angeles.

Protesters accuse the biotech giant of anti-competitive actions like cleaning its reputation with multibillion-dollar cash injections and deliberately bankrupting independent farmers in order to force them into using their genetically-engineered seeds.

The Occupy Monsanto movement is planning to launch another round of protests during the harvesting season 2012.