Monday, January 30, 2012

CBAN Newsletter-GMO's rejected in Europe

I received this very interesting newsletter from CBAN today. Good news for Europe, but not so much for North America. Read on....

Resistance in North America and the European Union is increasingly making GM a bad financial investment....Last week Monsanto shareholders voted down a proposed study of how the company's GM crops may pose financial and legal risks to the company. Monsanto's profits depend on GM now and they have little room to exit. Meanwhile BASF has cut and run from Europe after 30 years. 


AquaBounty cuts costs as its GM Atlantic Salmon becomes a losing venture: AquaBounty Technologies is aiming to cut the cash costs of operations by approximately 30%. It says this is due to continuing uncertainty over the timing of US Food and Drug Administration approval for its GM Salmon.


Monsanto gives up on French GM maize

28 January 2012 | By Alistair Driver

Biotech giant Monsanto has announced it is giving up on plans to sell genetically modified (GM) maize in France, despite winning a key court ruling last year.

In November, France’s highest court overturned the 2008 ban on cultivating Monsanto’s MON810, an insect-resistant strain of maize which is grown in several European countries. The court ruled that the Government had not produced enough evidence to back its claims that the GM crop posed a significant risk to health or the environment.

That ruling was prompted by a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in September, in a case brought by Monsanto.

But earlier this month French environment and agriculture ministers revealed that, despite the ruling, they were planning to reintroduce the moratorium on MON810 maize before spring sowings start.

This has proved to be the final straw for Monsanto, which said this week that it had no longer had any plans to market its GM maize in France.

“Monsanto considers that favourable conditions for the sale of the MON810 in France in 2012 and beyond are not in place,” the US company said.

GM campaigners welcomed the announcement. Pete Riley of GM Freeze said the decision was ‘yet another sign that Monsanto has failed to convince the public or policy makers that there is any benefit to growing to growing GM crops’.

“This needs to be acknowledged by industry and politicians and there should be a big shift to agricultural research and development which addresses the future sustainability of farming in Europe,” he said.

But Julian Little, chair of the Agricultural Biotechnology Council said he French Government decision earlier this month was  ‘clearly political’ and would deny access to tools that could enable them to ‘produce more food, feed and other raw materials, using less resources’.


BASF, the largest chemical company in the world, announced that it is moving its GMOs out of Europe. It is moving its headquarters from Germany to the US.  In 2010, BASF received European Union permission for cultivation of its GM potato called Amflora, to be used for industrial starch production, not food. However in 2011, BASF said it planned to cultivate just two hectares of the GM potato  in Germany and 15 hectares in Sweden. Analysis from Ignacio Chapela: "Clearly put: one of the largest among the few who banked on the GMO route to do agriculture is giving up in its own home turf, defeated by public opposition to its products which evidently do not live up to expectations." The world is squeezing GM back to North America, where resistance is strong and growing.

January 18, 2012 

BASF Sees the Light - GMO’s Move Out

by Ignacio Chapela

This week BASF announced that it is moving its GMOs out of Europe. Will the English-speaking media lose its nerve and write about it? Based on past experience, my wager goes to the habitual policy of silence, and I expect that the news will continue all but unrecorded in English.  Most of us will not celebrate as we should.

Other languages do comment and give a little more detail, albeit still briefly. In German, the word is printed clearly: “BASF admits defeat”, while in French: “The number one chemical concern in the world, the German BASF has announced on 16 January 2012 that it gives up the development and marketing of new transgenic products intended for the European Union.”

Clearly put: one of the largest among the few who banked on the GMO route to do agriculture is giving up in its own home turf, defeated by public opposition to its products which evidently do not live up to expectations.

You will find some records in the business websites, mostly deploring the European hostility towards GMOs, the loss of jobs (about 150-170 in Europe, although many are relocated to North Carolina, for an overall loss of about 10 jobs altogether) and repeating again the idea that rejecting GMOs in the environment is tantamount to committing economic suicide and “rejecting the future” as if this was possible.

I say that the future holds very little promise for GMOs altogether, and BASF is only the first to have the capacity to recognize the thirty years of bad investments. They can afford this move, which is not unannounced and forms part of a year-long reconfiguration of the company to navigate tighter economic straits ahead, because they are diversified and have strengths in other fields. Monsanto and Syngenta, for comparative example, have stood in complete dependency of GMOs since their mothership companies shed them off to swim or sink on transgenic markets twelve years ago; Bayer and Dow stand somewhere in between. Where Monsanto’s stock would have floundered if they announced they were closing GMO R & D in St Louis, Missouri, BASF’s stock hardly budged on the equivalent news (it actually ticked upwards in the Frankfurt exchange) – the timing of the news release may well have been a token of deference to BASF’s partner Monsanto, protecting the latter’s stock from the shock on a day when the US stock markets are closed.

The reasons for the failure of BASF’s products in Europe are many and very diverse, but the fundamental truth stands that over the decades no real benefit has offset the proven harm caused by GMOs.  It is fine to blame “the European public”, but we know that this public is no better or worse than our own in the US or anywhere else – had there been a GMO equivalent of the iPad, masses would have thronged the streets of Europe clamoring for their use. But it may be just as true that BASF would continue to push GMOs into Europe were it not for the tireless and creative work of many hundreds of thousands, the kinds of numbers needed these days to make a self-evident point which counters accepted official policy. So I say to our European friends: embrace the credit that is hurled at you and loudly celebrate what will not be announced as your victory in the newspapers.

We are left in desolate America, though, land of government by Monsanto, where BASF is relocating its GMO headquarters (some specialty technical BASF outfits remain in Ghent and Berlin). In the North it is impossible to know where the nearest non-GMO plant may be, while in the South and in Mexico the tragedy of GMO soy- and corn-agriculture continues apace, driven by corrupt or willfully ignorant governments and against public opinion much stronger and much more vocal than what we have seen in Europe. Far from recognizing the failure of GMOs altogether, something that should have happened at least a decade ago, BASF identifies the opportunities offered by the brutal realities of the Third World, opportunities which are better capitalized with the centralization, mechanization and property-rights enforcement possible only through GMOs. As we celebrate the lifting of perhaps one third of the pressure upon Europe to give in to GMOs, let’s not forget those places where they will continue to be used as the effective spear-head of corporate biological mining of other lands.

Ignacio Chapela is Associate Professor of Microbial Ecology at the University of California, Berkeley.  He is also a Senior Researcher at GenĂ˜k, the National Center for Biosafety, Norway.  

Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator 
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) 
Collaborative Campaigning for Food Sovereignty and Environmental Justice
Suite 206, 180 Metcalfe Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K2P 1P5 
Phone: 613 241 2267 ext. 25
Fax: 613 241 2506

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farmland investments said...

It is amazing that only in America has their been continued acceptance of GM. Of course, that is where a company like BASF will then relocate its GM operations too. I bet they will be heavily targeting Africa now.

Anonymous said...

Please BASF: Leave the United States. Better yet, leave Planet Earth and take Monsanto with you.

You have been neither needed, requested, nor wanted.

Thank you, Citizen