March Against Monsanto

Monsanto, the highly controversial biotech company known best for GMO seeds and chemical herbicides such as Roundup, has announced that it will drop lobbying efforts in the EU.

The announcement comes on the heels of worldwide March Against Monsanto protests that took place on May 25th in more than 50 countries. An estimated 2 million people participated in cities including many in Europe and the U.S.

Monsanto’s announcement follows a similar move from the German-based biotech company BASF nearly 18 months ago. Despite being a European company, BASF has opted to pursue non-European markets where interest levels and support for chemical products and GMOs are higher. Syngenta—a Swiss chemical and biotech company—has also recently shifted its focus away from Europe, as has Germany’s Bayer CropScience.

According to Monsanto, all activity geared at getting approval for GMO seeds in Europe will cease, due mainly to the low level of interest. German spokesperson, Ursula Luettmer-Ouazane told Food Navigator: “As long as there’s not enough demand from farmers for these products and the public at large doesn’t accept the technology, it makes no sense to fight against windmills.”

While Luettmer-Ouazane pointed towards decreased farmer interest as the driving cause, consumer and lawmaker support has dwindled recently as well, even though existing regulations and labeling laws throughout most of Europe make identifying genetically modified foods easier on consumers. Recently, the EU made a bold move in banning a group of pesticides believed to be directly connected with dwindling bee populations. While manufacturers and industry trade groups say the findings are flawed, the EU agreed to ban neonicotinoids for a minimum two-year period. A controversial 2012 French study conducted on the cancer risk of GMO corn and the herbicide glyphosate (Monsanto’s Roundup) caused a backlash of concern throughout the EU. Hungary made headlines recently for taking a slash and burn approach towards GMO corn found growing in the country.

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Image: Kevin Vanden