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Monsanto EU GM Crop Withdrawal Welcomed with Caution

Immediate release (18 Jul 2013)

Calls to: Pete Riley 07903 341 065

GM Freeze today welcomed Monsanto’s announcement that it is withdrawing pending applications to cultivate GM crops in the European Union but said this is not the end of Europe’s GM story. [1]

Monsanto says it will withdraw EU cultivation applications for GM maize (x5), sugar beet (x1) and soyabeans (x1) “in the coming months”. Of these only GM Roundup Ready sugar beet (with tolerance to the company’s best-selling glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup) would be suitable for the UK, but that crop was rejected by the UK Government after the 1999-2003 Field Scale Evaluations because its cultivation harmed farmland wildlife. [2]

The fate of Monsanto’s applications to commercialise cultivation of GM cotton in the EU is unclear. [3] Several other biotech companies have applications in the pipeline to cultivate GM crops in the EU, including Bayer, Syngenta and Dow.

Earlier in 2013 BASF announced its intention to withdraw an application to cultivate GM potatoes in the EU. BASF also discontinued EU marketing of its GM Amflora potato, which produced starch for industry, after a highly controversial authorisation by the Commission and a botched attempt at roll-out using seed contaminated with another, unauthorised GM potato. [4]

However GM Freeze points out that Monsanto’s GM crops will still be imported into the EU, primarily for use in animal feed and biofuels, so the damage to ecosystems and human health caused by GM will continue elsewhere. The lack of labels on meat, eggs, dairy products and fish produced using GM feed means that Europe’s reliance on GM is hidden from consumers so they cannot easily avoid buying GM-fed products. Food companies should meet the clear demand for entirely non-GM foods by labelling those produced without GM, as is done successfully by many companies in Germany, Austria and France. The first labelled non-GM product in the UK was recently announced by Alpro. [5]

Commenting Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

We very much welcome Monsanto’s decision, but it is not the end of the story. It has taken a long time for the penny to drop that trying to force failing GM technology onto an unwilling market it is simply not good business, and we hope other companies will follow suit – but EU GM imports are still a problem.

There is now a real opportunity for Europe to push ahead with farming that is sustainable, based on reducing dependencies on agrochemicals and adopting time-tested practices like crop rotation and biological control of pests. Policies, financial incentives and research and development all need to shift in this direction.

Supermarkets, animal feed manufacturers and farmers need to meet consumer demand by working together to drop our heavy dependence on imported GM soya to feed livestock and poultry.




[1] Reuters, 17 July 29013. “Monsanto to withdraw EU approval requests for new GMO crops

[2] Statement by Secretary of State Margaret Beckett, 9 March 2004. Hansard Columns 1379-1382

[3] The industry website GMO Compass lists cultivation applications for GM cotton (search on “cotton” at, but GM Freeze could not find these searching the these official EC site on 17 July.

[4] GM Freeze, 30 January 2013. “BASF drops key projects

[5], 25 June 2013. “UK: WhiteWave’s Alpro introduces non-GM labelling mark