Your Health

Monsanto Gives Up on GMO Approval in (Some of) Europe


Photo: WikiCommons. San Francisco March Against Monsanto 2013

Despite its reputation for having some of the most shadowy and convincing lobbyists in BigAg, Monsanto has given up on its attempts to lobby European governments for the right to cultivate their genetically modified plants and seeds (or GMOs), reports CBC News.

Due to little demand for their products from European farmers, the agricultural biotech giant is no longer seeking licenses for any new GMO plants or field trials in various parts of western Europe, says CBC, citing an article in the Berlin newspaper Tageszeitung (Taz).

“We have come to understand that, at the moment, it doesn’t have broad acceptance,” said Ursula Luettmer-Ouazane, the Monsanto spokesperson for Germany, in Taz, adding, “It’s counterproductive to fight against windmills.”

Unfortunately for companies like Monsanto, BASF, Syngenta and Bayer CropSciences, these so-called “windmills” have been popping up all over Europe, with public opposition causing the aforementioned GMO-pushing tycoons to pull out of the market.

According to the CBC News, a number of European authorities have “outright banned” the cultivation of selects GMOs, such as Monsanto’s genetically-modified corn—or MON 810—in 2009, or are currently working to eliminate them—like in France, Austria and Hungary with the same Monsanto corn.

Other GMO products have been pulled from European cultivation entirely, like BASF’s Amflora potato in 2012, due to their widespread public disapproval.

“There is still a lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe – from the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians,” said BASF board member Dr. Stefan Marcinowski in an official press release.  “Therefore it does not make business sense to continue investing in products exclusively for cultivation in this market.”

While this news means we are one step closer to a GMO-free food system, it is hardly enough to topple the BigAg powers that be, who still reign supreme in various other world markets.

As a Monsanto spokesperson told Taz, the multinational company “will continue to sell MON 810 in Spain, Portugal and Romania, where there is greater acceptance of the product than in other parts of Europe. It will also still try to get the European Union to approve the import of GMO-containing cattle feed.”

On the same note, an undeterred BASF will “concentrate on the attractive markets for plant biotechnology in North and South America and the growth markets in Asia,” said Marcinowski.

Meanwhile, despite recent protests in the United States against the Monsanto Protection Act, America is still—by far—the No. 1 consumer and producer of GMOs in the global economy, with a whopping 58 percent of its population saying they are unfamiliar with the issue, according to a 2006 study by the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology.

Why do you think the United States is so far behind countries like Japan, Australia and those in the European Union (EU) in their ban or strict limitations on GMOs, and what do you think of Western Europe’s recent moves to rid themselves of the ‘Frankenseeds’?

Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!

About Amber Harvey

Amber is passionate about food ethics, sustainability and wellness. She believes that through the adoption of local and organic food systems and the embracing of holistic and natural healing, we can make sustainable change towards a healthier society and planet. When her nose isn’t buried in a Michael Pollan book or her fingers aren’t poised on the keyboard for a food politics showdown, Amber is studying Public Affairs and Journalism at Wayne State University in Detroit: a city that she promises is very far from cultural, artistic or spiritual bankruptcy.

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