August 27, 2015
Source: Monsanto Europe-Africa
By Brandon Mitchener
Since the European Union first authorised GM crops for cultivation in 1998, EU-level approval was enough to plant them anywhere in the Union, which now counts 28 countries. Several individual nations weren’t happy with that and banned GM crops on political grounds. These bans were systematically struck down as lacking any legitimate scientific basis.
Now, under a new EU law passed earlier this year, countries require no scientific justification for bans on the cultivation of GM crops on their territory and can do so for arbitrary reasons. In fact, some EU countries have begun doing just that.
Monsanto has been made aware of requests (“demands”) to the European Commission from Latvia and Greece to be removed from the scope of our request for EU re-authorization allowing continued cultivation of MON810 insect-resistant maize within the EU. Germany and Scotland have also publicly announced their opposition to GMO cultivation on their territories.What this means is that rather than an approval for a GM seed or trait being valid within the entire EU common market as in the past, approval would be limited to just a subset of the members of the EU.
Monsanto has acquiesced to these two opt-out requests and will consider any other such requests on a case-by-case basis.
The opt-out requests on MON810 cultivation will have no impact on our business. Sales of GM seeds represent less than half of a percent of Monsanto’s successful business selling traditional maize, oilseed rape and vegetable seeds to farmers in Europe and the Middle East. MON810 is our only GM seed sold in Europe, and we have no intention of seeking approval for the cultivation of any new GM seeds in Europe anytime soon. Our business has long since moved on, and is entirely focused on delivering other innovative products and services to help farmers produce more, better and more affordable food, fuel and fibre more efficiently.
Nevertheless, we regret that some countries are deviating from a science-based approach to innovation in agriculture and have elected to prohibit the cultivation of a successful GM product on arbitrary political grounds. We consider these decisions to be disproportionate and discriminatory and believe that the European Commission is acting contrary to the spirit of the EU Treaty in fragmenting the market for agricultural products. We also believe that these political opt-outs will deny European farmers’ right to choose safe, innovative products that help them produce food more efficiently and sustainably.
These decisions contradict and undermine the scientific consensus on the safety of MON 810 and its long history of safe use.
We want to continue to provide choice to farmers. Governments of some countries that support science and innovation have said they want their farmers to have the option of being able to grow GM crops, and Monsanto is committed to continue to provide access to MON810 seeds to farmers in those countries.
To learn more about Monsanto’s business in Europe, please check out these sites:
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