Industry figures confirm GM food is a commercial flop in Europe

GM crops still largely restricted to the Americas

Press release - February 7, 2012
Annual industry figures to be released on Tuesday are expected to confirm the commercial failure of genetically modified (GM) food in Europe, said Greenpeace. Only around 0.06% of the EU’s farmland was used in 2011 to grow GM food, according to data in the report by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a group funded by the biotech industry to promote GM crops.

The future is looking increasingly uncertain for GM cultivation in Europe

The biotech industry figure for overall cultivation of GM food in Europe in 2011 is only expected to be just over 110,000 hectares, while total agricultural land used in the EU amounts to about 179 million hectares [1].

Widespread public opposition and environmental concerns expressed by several European governments, scientists and farmers have made GM food a commercial flop in Europe, said Greenpeace [2]. Only Spain saw a noticeable rise in cultivation in 2011, slightly increasing overall figures for Europe after three consecutive years of decline [3].

The publication of the annual ISAAA industry report follows an announcement in January by BASF, the world’s biggest chemical company, that it was abandoning plans to develop and commercialise GM food in Europe due to opposition from “the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians” [4]. Cultivation of BASF’s flagship antibiotic-resistant potato, known as Amflora, has been negligible since its controversial authorisation in March 2010 – under 20 hectares in 2011 [5].

The only crop that will still be grown in Europe in 2012, Monsanto’s pesticide-producing GM maize MON810, is still banned in seven EU countries because of environmental and health concerns [6]. In January, Monsanto announced that it would no longer seek to sell its GM maize in France, saying that “favorable conditions for the sale of the MON810 in France in 2012 and beyond are not in place” [7]

Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said: “There is no escaping the hard facts: GM food has flopped in Europe, is increasingly opposed in Asia and is retreating to the Americas. The industry’s own figures show that GM crops are only grown in a measly 0.06% of Europe’s farmland. Public rejection and market failure have already forced BASF to scale back in Europe, while Monsanto is left holding on by its fingernails.”

After 16 years of aggressive commercialisation, over 80% of global GM crop production is still restricted to only four countries in the Americas: the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. Recent attempts to introduce GM food to China (GM rice) and India (GM aubergine) have failed [8].


Notes to editors:
See: In comparison, the organically farmed area in the EU is over 9 million hectares (FiBL, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, 2011:
[2] 61% of Europeans reject GM crops, according to EU polls (Special Eurobarometer 341 - 73.1 on Biotechnology:
In 2010-2009, cultivation of GM crops in Europe declined by 13%. In 2009-2008, the ISAAA also reported a 12% EU-wide decline (see: ISAAA, global status of commercialized biotech/GM Crops: 2009. By Clive James, ISAAA brief 4, pp. 181-182).
BASF press release:
Countries with a ban on MON810 are: Germany, France, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Luxembourg and Bulgaria.
See: and

Marco Contiero
– Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director: +32 (0)477 777034,
Greenpeace EU press desk
– +32 (0)2 274 1911,


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