Germany bans Monsanto's maize

Feature story - 15 April, 2009
We're thrilled with an historic victory against genetically engineered crops. Germany has just announced that it will become the sixth EU country to ban the cultivation of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) maize MON810 - the only GE crop that can be commercially grown in the region.

Now that Germany has taken a stand - we're hoping the EU will follow.

The German Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Ilse Aigner, said "I have come to the conclusion that there are legitimate grounds to accept that genetically modified corn from the MON810 strain constitutes a danger to the environment."

MON810 is mostly cultivated in the EU for animal feed - and is now due for re-authorisation under EU rules after the expiry of its ten-year license. Besides Germany, five countries have already banned the planting of it: France, Greece, Austria, Hungary and most recently, Luxembourg.

Any government that seriously examines the risks associated with growing this maize can only reach one rational conclusion: it must be banned. Instead of trying to force countries to lift national bans on this crop, the European Commission needs to face the reality of scientific findings. We're calling on Commissioner Dimas to stop the re-authorisation of Monsanto's maize in the EU.

One step for Germany, one giant stride for mankind

The recent announcement from the German Agriculture Minister has resulted in our phones ringing off the hook. An EU ban on this maize is something we have been working towards for years and having the two strongest countries in the EU, France (as of last year) and now Germany, agreeing on ban has brought us a lot closer to our goal. This is a victory for the environment, for consumers and farmers who want to avoid GE crops as well as for independent science.

Scientific studies have demonstrated that the pesticide-producing MON810 maize, has negative effects on the environment and on biodiversity. The Minister based her decision on a safeguard clause in EU law which allows Member States to use the precautionary principle and prohibit gentically modified organisms (GMOs) in light of new evidence. Aigner's decision sends a powerful message to bio-tech corporations like Monsanto against taking control of our global food chain.

Monsanto's not the only threat

In another bid to control our food, Bayer, the German chemical giant is hoping to get EU approval for the import of their GE rice variety LL62. Most countries have shied away from allowing risky experimentation with rice - the world's most important staple crop and at present, no GE rice is grown commercially anywhere in the world.

Bayer has genetically manipulated rice to withstand higher doses of a toxic pesticide called glufosinate, which is considered to be so dangerous to humans and the environment that it will soon be banned from Europe.

In the coming weeks, the European Union will also decide whether or not this GE rice can enter EU countries, appear on supermarket shelves and end up on our dinner plates. If the European Union approves the import of Bayer GE rice, farmers in the US and elsewhere may soon start planting the manipulated crop. Keeping rice GE-free is not just about consumer choice or the environment - it's a lot bigger than that. It's a matter of global food security, human rights and survival.

We hope that governments around the world will follow the examples of countries like Germany and France and ban all risky GMOs.

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Ask all governments around the world to protect consumers and farmers, their crops and fields by rejecting Bayer’s GE rice, and stopping GE rice field trials.

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