April 14, 2009

Germany Bans Monsanto GM Crops

Germany has announced plans to ban the cultivation and sale of genetically modified maize.

The decision is aimed directly at Monsanto's MON 810 maize, said Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner. MON 810 is the only genetically modified crop approved for use by the European Union.

"I have come to the conclusion there are just reasons to assume that the genetically-modified maize MON 810 represents a danger for the environment," Aigner said.

"Therefore, the cultivation of MON 810 is now banned in Germany."

Aigner noted several studies were cited on the environmental impact of the GM seeds' cultivation.

Despite being approved by the EU in 1998, several nations have banned the use of MON 810, which is resistant to a moth larva that feed on the stem. France, Austria, Hungary, Luxembourg and Greece each have similar bans in place.

MON 810 has been permitted in Germany since 2005, and Aigner denied that her decision was politically rooted. She cited "new scientific elements" in the decision against the crop.

"There is a justifiable reason to believe that... MON 810 presents a danger to the environment," Aigner said.

According to AFP: "Fields containing genetically-modified corn make up a mere 0.2 percent of Germany's total maize-producing land -- with only 3,700 hectares (9,100 acres) of land sown with GM maize."

Some 13.3 million farmers sowed GM crops last year, 1.3 million more than in 2007, according to ISAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech).

Last month, a majority of EU nations overturned an attempt by the European Commission to force Austria and Hungary to repeal their bans.

"This is a welcome change of course from the environment ministry. Neither German consumers nor farmers want genetically-modified plants," said Leif Miller, head of Germany's Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, NABU.

"A ban on MON 810 was overdue and is an important step in the right direction."


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