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Organic Consumers Association

Monsanto's Deception Game on GMO in Europe

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

On May 31 world media headlines read "Monsanto backing away from GMO crops in Europe." But before the world opens the champagne to celebrate the death of GMO, it is worthwhile to look more closely at what was officially said and what not.

The original source for the story is attributed to a German left daily, TAZ which printed excerpts from an interview with an official spokeswoman of Monsanto Germany.

Ursula L├╝ttmer-Ouazane reportedly told Taz " We've come to the conclusion that this has no broad acceptance at the moment."

Her remarks were circulated worldwide and Reuters interviewed Monsanto corporate spokesman Thomas Helscher who reportedly said, " We're going to sell the GM seeds only where they enjoy broad farmer support, broad political support and a functioning regulatory system. As far as we're convinced this only applies to a few countries in Europe today, primarily Spain and Portugal." 

A Monsanto interview with a leftist German paper created the impression around the world that the world's largest patent-holder of GMO seeds is in full retreat from pushing their GMO seeds, at least in the European Union. The reality is anything but that.  Among other things, on June 10 the EU Commission plans to approve a new Monsanto GMO maize sort.

What Monsanto really says

A visit to the official website of Monsanto Germany presents an official company press release referring to the media statements, where the essential part says, " Right now the media is flooded with reports that Monsanto has stopped the marketing of GMO seeds in Germany and the EU. That is not correct "

Then on the parent website of Monsanto in St. Louis, the following statement appears: " We have a robust business selling high-quality, conventional corn, oilseed rape and vegetable seeds to our farmer customers in Europe. We've been telling people in Europe for several years now that we'll only sell biotech seeds where they enjoy broad farmer support, broad political support and a functioning regulatory system. As Hugh Grant, our CEO told the Financial Times in 2009, 'Europe's going to make up its own mind in its own time.' The only GM trait grown in Europe today is a corn resistant to the European corn borer, an insect that can do considerable damage to crops. Its cultivation accounts for less than 1% of the all corn cultivated in Europe (by hectares)."   

 Both statements are worth closer attention. First the German statement is a bit different from the US version. It officially denies as false the press reports that they have ceased marketing of GMO seeds in the EU. Second, their statement that they concentrate on breeding and sale of conventional seeds and plant protection chemicals is nothing other than a description of what the present status of Monsanto sales in the EU, nothing more. Because of the limited use so far of Monsanto GMO seeds in the EU, Monsanto business by definition focuses now where it earns money. However the "plant protection chemicals" Monsanto refers to primarily its own Roundup herbicide, which by license agreement with farmers must be sold paired with all Monsanto GMO seeds, but is also the number one weed killer sold in Europe and the world. It has also been proven to be highly toxic even to human embryo cells.

The US statement has interesting important differences. First it gives no hint of any change in Monsanto policy towards spreading GMO seeds in the EU. It states explicitly they will continue to spread GMO seeds in Spain and Portugal, both EU countries. And it quotes chairman Hugh Grant, not to be confused with the Hollywood actor, indicating the company expects the EU to come around on allowing its GMO. And it cites the present status of its GMO corn in the EU. Nothing more. No statement of a stop to GMO in the EU.

And the Monsanto beat goes on, the beat goes on, on, on    


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