Brussels -- US biotech and chemical company Monsanto has confirmed that it will withdraw all current applications for genetically modified (GM) crops in the EU, citing their commercial unviability and public resistance. While welcoming the announcement, Greenpeace notes that the company will seek to continue sales of its controversial MON810 maize, the last remaining GM crop grown in Europe.
The EU-wide authorisation for the cultivation of MON810 is expiring at the end of a ten-year period and the safety of the crop is due to be reassessed. The company is permitted to continue to use MON810 in Europe until the European Commission announces its decision.
Monsanto signalled in May that it was reassessing its operations within Europe, after it said it faced stronger regulations and a lack of political support for its GM crops . Currently, only Spain grows non-negligible quantities of MON810, alongside more limited cultivation in the Czech Republic and Portugal.
Greenpeace sustainable farming policy adviser Herman Van Bekkem said: “This is a good day for science and research in Europe. Over the last couple of decades, GM crops have proven themselves to be an ineffective and unpopular technology. Every week there is new evidence of the dangerous impacts of GM crops on our environment. Continued rejection by farmers, consumers and governments will ultimately lead Monsanto to also withdraw its MON810 GM maize, the last remaining GM crop grown in Europe. A complete pull-out by Monsanto could finally create the space for European farming to focus on modern as well as traditional practices and technologies that offer real advances for food production and rural communities while not negatively impacting the natural environment.”
In January last year, German chemical company BASF signalled its withdrawal from the EU market after failing to find sufficient consumer interest for its products .