By Eve Mitchell
The new year has brought two significant developments for GM crops in the EU. BASF has pulled all R&D aimed at European markets and moved their operations to the U.S., and Monsanto has pulled sales of their GM MON810 maize from France.
BASF’s GM crop prospects in Europe suffered a serious blow in 2010 when the first ever planting of its flagship Amflora GM potato, designed to produce industrial starch, had to be destroyed when it emerged the seed stock was contaminated with an unauthorised GM potato. Caching up with what Europeans have known all along, a BASF spokesperson was reported to say, “It does not make business sense to continue investing in products exclusively for cultivation in this market.” The company clearly thinks it will have better luck selling its GM food in the U.S. — where there are no labels to tell consumers what they are buying.
Monsanto’s withdrawal of MON810 was more of a surprise. After all, the company had recently won a case at the EU Court of Justice against the ongoing French ban on cultivation. The French Government vowed to correct its administrative oversights and reinstate the ban, and Monsanto must have felt it wasn’t worth the fight – or perhaps didn’t want the renewed scrutiny of the crop the French would ignite so decided on a tactical retreat.
Either way Europeans are a step or two closer to the GM-free food and farming we want. Now all we have to do is clean up the problems the limited GM crops we’ve already grown and still causing for people like beekeepers.