Major biotech corporation Monsanto announced Wednesday that it is throwing in the towel in its fight to cultivate new genetically modified foods in the European Union—a move that could create the chance for European farming to focus on sustainable practices "that offer real advances for food production and rural communities," said Greenpeace's Mark Breddy.
However, food justice and environmental groups warned that the fight is not over. Monsanto says that it will continue its push to import its products in the EU, primarily for use in animal feed and biofuels, even if it can't cultivate its controversial products on EU soil.
“We will no longer be pursuing approvals for cultivation of new biotech crops in Europe,” Monsanto said in a statement. “Instead, we will focus on enabling imports of biotech crops into the EU and the growth of our current business there.”
We very much welcome Monsanto’s decision, but it is not the end of the story. It has taken a long time for the penny to drop that trying to force failing GM technology onto an unwilling market it is simply not good business, and we hope other companies will follow suit – but EU GM imports are still a problem.
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The company’s move follows a similar move by biotech firm BASF, which stopped developing GM crops in the EU in 2012. However, as GM Freeze noted in a statement, "several other biotech companies have applications in the pipeline to cultivate GM crops in the EU, including Bayer, Syngenta and Dow."
Greenpeace notes the company will also seek to continue sales of its controversial MON810 maize, which was already approved in Europe and is the last remaining GM crop grown there.
"The EU-wide authorization for the cultivation of MON810 is expiring at the end of a ten-year period and the safety of the crop is due to be reassessed. The company is permitted to continue to use MON810 in Europe until the European Commission announces its decision," stated Greenpeace.
"Monsanto’s toxic presence in Europe has not gone away," said Friends of the Earth's Mute Schimpf. "They still plan to grow their main GM crop in Europe, seek to widen their control over conventional seeds and increase their sales of chemicals that pollute the countryside and our bodies.”