No more GMO: Monsanto drops bid to approve new crops in Europe
The world’s largest seed corporation says it has dropped its bid to get more genetically modified crops onto the European market due to the wide-spread popular opposition. The biotech giant says it will expand its share of the natural seed market instead.
“We will no longer be pursuing approvals for cultivation of
new biotech crops in Europe. Instead, we will focus on enabling
imports of biotech crops into the EU and the growth of our
current business there,” the US-based company said in an
The pending applications for GM crops – 6 types of corn, a
soybean variety and a modified sugar beet – will be
withdrawn shortly, the biotech giant stressed.
Currently, only two GM crops are approved in Europe, the MON810
maize and a modified potato created by BASF, a German biotech
company. However, much of the allowed genetically modified
produce is delivered to Europe as animal feed.
Europe has long expressed its concern over the effects of GM food
produce on human health.
Several EU member states, including France, Germany, Austria,
Spain, have banned the cultivation of genetically-modified crops.
Last September, French scientists from the University of Caen
released a study showing that rats fed on a diet
containing NK603, a corn seed variety resistant to Monsanto's
Roundup weed-killer, along with those given water mixed with the
product at levels permitted in the United States, died earlier
than those on a standard diet.
Protests against Monsanto are frequent all over the globe, online and on the streets.
In mid-June, the latest initiative against the corporation was
launched. Monsanto Video Revolt was set to bypass the corporate media
blackout on GMO foods and bring the issue to world’s attention.
The campaign was announced by the Global Healing Center, Natural
News and Natural Society, which have united to counter GM produce
and the huge amounts of poisonous herbicides and pesticides being
dumped all over the world.
In May, an estimated two million people, many of them in Europe, turned out for global anti-GM rallies.
In the UK, a YouGov poll released last month shows that only 21
percent of Britons are in favor of growing GM crops, with 35
percent opposed to the technology.
However, senior officials in Britain have been stepping up the campaign to bring large-scale
farming of genetically-modified crops into Europe. In June, UK
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson asked the EU to loosen
existing controls due to the risk of being “left behind.”
Monsanto noted that they will invest in its European non-GMO seed
business instead to boost the corporation’s sales.
The company’s seed business in Europe accounts for over 98 per
cent of its $1.72 billion turnover in Europe.
"Conventional seeds is the area where we are focusing at this
time in Europe, and we are funding the business in a way that we
haven't done for more than 15 years," Monsanto’s President
and managing Director for Europe, Jose Manuel Madero, indicated
The corporation is already investing $300 million to boost its
seed production in France, Romania, Hungary and Turkey, with a
mind to cashing in on "several hundred million dollars"
more over the next five years, Madero says.
A significant part of that money – an initial investment of $150
million which could double to $300 million within a couple of
years – is to be directed to Ukraine, a major global grain
producer. Monsanto stressed that the total area sown with its
seeds in Ukraine doubled between 2012 and 2013.
Madero wasn’t so optimistic about the corporation’s prospects in
Russia, though, as there are no production facilities there.
GM crops not currently grown in Russia or in Ukraine, with the
corporation stressing they are not currently seeking to push for
such cultivation in those markets.
Despite harsh European opposition, Monsanto-produced GM crops and
agro-chemicals are widely used in the US and in other parts of