After permitting farmers to grow Monsanto’s GM maize variety MON 810 since 2005, Ilse Aigner, Germany’s Agricultural Minister has announced the country’s decision to ban further growth of the genetically engineered crop. This decision, Aigner added, is based on science, not politics, as they have concerns that the variety could be a threat to the environment.
Germany will join Austria, who banned the import of another GM variety produced by Monsanto in July 2008, MON 863, after reports of rats that had eaten the maize suffering damage to internal organs; Hungary, France and Greece, in refusing to grow the variety, which the biotech industry comments is as safe as traditional maize varieties.
These countries’ decision to ban the growing of the crops has seen pressure from the European Commission, as their stance is that they want to be able to utilise this crop to provide cheaper food, as the modification makes the variety resistent to a stem-boring mite, the cornborer, by producing a toxin to kill it. Germany commented that their decision to ban Mon 810 is not a reflection of their position on all GM crop varieties.
Greenpeace, whose stance is against the introduction of genetically modified crops, have criticised the European Food Safety Authority in the past for approving anything the agro-chemical industry presents without the careful consideration of the long-term effects genetically engineered varieties of crops can have on the environment. In December they called on the EU to take a number of steps to ensure safety of our food by putting measures and restrictions in place and make a commitment to undertaking more substantial risk assessments where GM crops are concerned.