Monsanto has denied media claims that it is pulling out of Europe – although it has said it will withdraw pending applications for four genetically modified crops in the EU.
The company said on Thursday that it was expanding its conventional (non-GM) seed business in Europe, and would continue to sell its GM corn MON810 to European farmers – its only GM crop currently approved for cultivation in Europe, and the market’s only commercially successful GM crop. However, it said it was withdrawing its applications to cultivate four new crops, as they were “going nowhere fast”.
“The EU today is effectively a conventional seed market, and we’ve been progressively de-emphasizing cultivation of biotech crops in Europe,” Monsanto said. “This means we are no longer seeking approval to commercialize biotech seeds in the EU. We intend to progressively withdraw pending regulatory files for commercial cultivation of new biotech crops in the EU, subject to discussions with business partners.”
European Commission spokesperson Frédéric Vincent told FoodNavigator that Monsanto had informed the Commission on Wednesday that it wished to withdraw the applications, which had been filed between three and eight years ago. He said there were eight pending applications for GM crop cultivation with the Commission, four of which were Monsanto’s.
“There is a kind of legal deadlock on cultivation of GMOs in the EU,” Vincent said, pointing to bans on GM crop cultivation in eight member states.
Monsanto’s GM corn – mostly grown in Portugal and Spain – represents less than 1% of the corn grown in Europe.
However, Vincent added that the EU does import millions of tonnes of GM crops to be used in animal feed.
Monsanto said that it would focus on EU import approvals to help accelerate adoption of its GM crops in other parts of the world.