Germany to Ban Monsanto Corn

April 14, 2009 at 8:53 am

Joining France, Germany Bans Monsanto MON810 Corn. Now if only the US FDA would get the message. Here’s the article from Bloomberg:

By Brett Neely

April 14 (Bloomberg) — Germany outlawed the planting of a strain of genetically modified corn made by Monsanto Co., joining a widening European ban on GM crops that threatens to trigger U.S. trade retaliation.

The German ban applies to Monsanto’s MON810, a pest- resistant corn variety, Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner told reporters in Berlin today. Germany joins France, Austria, Hungary, Greece and Luxembourg, all of which have already forbid planting of MON810, she said.

“I have come to the conclusion that there are legitimate grounds to accept that genetically modified corn from the MON810 strain constitutes a danger to the environment,” said Aigner. Andreas Thierfelder, Monsanto’s director of public affairs in Germany, didn’t return calls to his mobile phone.

European Union governments upheld similar Austrian and Hungarian bans last month in a blow to the European Commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, which argued that moves to proscribe the corn were unjustified because scientists have determined the products are safe for consumers and the environment.

The commission declined to say whether it will try to overturn the German ban. The commission will analyze the German move and “decide on the most appropriate follow-up,” spokeswoman Nathalie Charbonneau told reporters in Brussels today.

WTO Ruling

In a case brought by the U.S., Canada and Argentina, the World Trade Organization ruled in 2006 that a European Union moratorium on new gene-altered products lasting from 1998 to 2004 was illegal. The U.S. has since voiced concern about continued European market barriers. Under WTO rules, President Barack Obama’s administration has the right to seek retaliatory measures.

The German decision, which comes into effect immediately, is a turnaround from legislation passed in January last year making it easier for farmers to sow genetically altered corn.

Horst Seehofer, who was then agriculture minister, said at the time his decision was meant to help Germany’s biotechnology industry. Yet the legislation passed was criticized by green lobbies as well as Monsanto, which said it failed to remove hurdles for farmers wanting to plant the crop imposed by the previous Social Democrat-led government with the Green Party.

Seehofer quit his post in October to become Bavarian state prime minister and head of the Christian Social Union, Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.

Factual Decision

“My decision is not a political decision, it’s a decision based on the facts,” said Aigner, a member of Seehofer’s CSU. Germany, governed since November 2005 by a coalition of CDU, CSU and Social Democrats, will hold national elections on Sept. 27.

Green lobbies and consumer groups welcomed today’s announcement, citing surveys showing that more than 70 percent of consumers oppose the use of GM crops for food.

“This decision is right, if long overdue,” Stephanie Toewe, Greenpeace spokeswoman on biotechnology, said in a statement. Numerous studies show GM corn to be harmful to the environment, Toewe said, urging Aigner to persuade the EU in Brussels to outlaw similar genetically modified corn varieties.

The German DIB group, which lobbies for biotechnology in industry, condemned Aigner’s decision for “going against scientifically-based procedure.” DIB member companies “fear a bitter setback for the state of biotechnology in Germany,” it said in an e-mailed statement.

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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