Monsanto, the Missouri-based biotech and chemical company announced that it will officially withdraw efforts to gain approval for GMO crops in Europe.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the company made the announcement on Thursday after facing years of standstill with the European Commission. Eight of nine pending applications will be withdrawn. A spokesperson told the Times that the requests "have been going nowhere," and that "There’s no end in sight [...] due to political obstructionism."
Instead, Monsanto will shift its focus to its conventional seed business, which already does well for the company in Europe. Monsanto owns Seminis—the largest fruit and vegetable seed distributor in the world. Monsanto's MON810 is a genetically modified corn variety and currently the only GMO corn approved for commercial planting in Europe, which the company said it will also continue to focus on.
A study recently conducted in France found glyphosate, the companion herbicide used on Monsanto's GMO seeds, to cause cancer in lab animals.
And the EU just banned four pesticides widely used on conventional and genetically modified crops because of the connection with massive bee die-offs. The disease, called Colony Collapse Disorder, has killed millions of bees worldwide. The EU's decision to ban three types of neonicotinoids and fipronil has been met with criticism from the biotech and chemical industries.
Many EU member states already have strict bans on genetically modified foods. Lack of human health and environmental safety evidence has led the countries to ban the sale of cultivation of genetically engineered ingredients.
The EU recently advised its member states to use caution and testing when purchasing U.S. wheat after a variety of Monsanto's illegal genetically modified wheat was found growing in an Oregon wheat field.
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Image: Perry McKenna