Monsanto just made the — somewhat surprising — announcement that it will no longer be marketing new genetically engineered seeds (GE) in the European Union. The notorious corporation made moves earlier in the year suggesting that such an occurrence was probably an eventuality — in particular, when they announced that they would no longer lobby the European Union to approve the cultivation of GE seeds in the region. Obviously, though, things are open to change — it’ll be interesting to see what Monsanto’s next move is with regard to the European Union. Perhaps they are simply backing out of Europe to instead spend more resources going after South and Central America?
Monsanto’s been spending significant amounts of money in recent years lobbying the EU to approve more of their GE seeds and GMO crops, but public opposition to the technology has been growing in recent years in Europe. A recent poll taken in the EU showed that about 95% of EU citizens agree that “the right thing to do” is to only utilize products/crops that are “respectful of the environment”. And has been accurately noted by many researchers from a variety of different scientific fields, GMOs and GE seeds often cause significant environmental problems — destroying the biodiversity that healthy ecosystems are based on, destroying genetic diversity amongst the worlds crops/destroying disease resistance amongst crops, forcing increased levels of pesticide and herbicide use, and causing problems for many wild animals/plants. And those are just the problems that we currently know about..
And there’s also the fact that they often don’t even work the way that they are “supposed” to — sometimes even resulting in reduced crop yields after only a few years of use. In spite of this though, the influence of the GMO lobby appears to growing — as the approval of the Monsanto Protection Act by president Obama shows. Something else to note — Monsanto continues to grow, they reported an earnings growth of greater than 20% for fiscal year 2013.
Greenpeace has more:
It is increasingly clear that the US farmers who choose to grow GE seeds are having huge problems. Experiences after a decade of growing herbicide-tolerant crops such as Monsanto’s RoundupReady soy and corn are bad news for the environment, biodiversity and the farmers who grow them; they mean more toxic herbicides, more expensive seeds and lower yields.
However, the GE battle in Europe is far from over. The EU-wide authorization for the cultivation of MON810, a genetically engineered maize variety and the last genetically engineered crop currently grown in Europe, expired in 2008, after a 10-year period. The long-awaited reassessment of MON810 is now five years overdue. The European Commission should announce its decision shortly and will determine whether Europe will be entirely GE-free in the near future or not.
Hopefully this move now means that the EU can come up with some real solutions for European agriculture in the 21st century. The world needs solutions based on agro-ecological science, including modern seeds varieties without GE, that can produce enough food for all, while benefiting farmers and protecting the environment.
The world’s agricultural systems are going to be affected on a very profound level, and on a very large scale, in the coming years by climate change. Rising temperatures, increasing occurrences of natural disasters, and the depletion of important synthetic fertilizers will profoundly affect a large proportion of the people on the planet — and despite what those in the GMO industry have argued, GMOs are extremely unlikely to provide solutions to these problems, and may even cause significant problems of their own.