April 24, 2009

Germans Seek Open Debate Over GM Crops

Germany's Chancellor warned at an event in Berlin on Friday that there was too much immediate hostility towards crops containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), Reuters reported.

Chancellor Angela Merkel advised an open political discussion about the risks and concerns of biotechnology, adding that the political level should not immediately give way to objections.

Earlier this month, the cultivation and sales of GMO maize of type MON 810 produced by U.S. seed giant Monsanto was banned by German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner.

Aigner stated she would make a new review of an application for open-air trial cultivation of the GMO potato Amflora developed by German group BASF"”which is not yet involved in commercial plantings.

Millions of dollars have been invested in developing such crops as the Amflora potato in the hope that field trials could be made, Merkel said on Friday.

"This fact cannot simply be ignored because currently sentiment is hostile," she added.

She urged any official ban on the MON 810 GMO maize should be an individual decision, suggesting her own conservative CDU party should remain open to biotechnology that could become a key feature of agriculture in future.

Some fear that Germany's ruling government coalition ban of GMO maize could damage the country's reputation as a location for scientific development.

Annette Schavan, Germany's Research Minister, set up a round table meeting on Tuesday over the future of GMO crops.

Schavan said that while the fear of new technology should be taken seriously, the debate shouldn't be left to fear only.