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GM crops giant Monsanto pulls out of Europe!

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  • Alberto Machado
    GM crops giant Monsanto pulls out of Europe By Robert Uhlig The Daily Telegraph, 15 October 2003 Monsanto, the American pioneer of genetically modified crops,
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 15, 2003
      GM crops giant Monsanto pulls out of Europe
      By Robert Uhlig
      The Daily Telegraph, 15 October 2003

      Monsanto, the American pioneer of genetically modified crops, said
      Wednesday it was pulling out of its European cereal seed business. The
      move was widely seen as a sign that it has given up hopes of introducing
      GM cereals in Europe.

      It announced its decision on the eve of Thursday's publication of results
      of farm-scale British evaluations of GM crops, the final and most
      influential part of the Government's investigation into whether to allow
      GM crops to be grown commercially. The trials, which investigated the
      effect of GM maize, oilseed rape and sugar beet on farmland wildlife and
      biodiversity, are expected to give a mixed verdict on the technology.

      Two other Government reports on the economic benefits of growing GM crops
      and on scientific understanding of their environmental and health effects
      have also failed to present a strong case for rushing into commercial GM

      There are also questions about the value of the GM maize trials, which
      did not take the vital factor of crop yield into account.

      Monsanto's announcement that it wants to sell its cereal development
      stations at Cambridge, England, and in France, Germany and the Czech
      Republic, followed hardening resistance to GM crops throughout Europe.

      Insurers are not prepared to underwrite GM farmers, and 98 per cent of
      37,000 participants in GM Nation?, a public consultation, told the
      Government they did not want GM crops or food.

      Jeff Cox, Monsanto's general manager for northern Europe, said the
      withdrawal from Europe was to allow the company to realign its business
      to "focus on those projects that will best capitalise on in its market
      and technological strengths".

      He said the company needed to save up to pounds 65 million and would be
      making one in 11 of its workers redundant worldwide.

      When Monsanto bought Plant Breeding International Cambridge from Unilever
      in 1998, Hugh Grant, then president of Monsanto's agricultural division,
      said GM crops would be commercial reality in Britain by this year.

      Anti-GM lobbyists said the withdrawal was a sign that Monsanto was
      "throwing in the towel" in Europe. They said that with Canadian farmers
      campaigning against licensing Monsanto's GM wheat, the company was also
      facing severe resistance in North America.

      Pete Riley, of Friends of the Earth, said Monsanto was ``pulling out
      after five years with no products to show and no test sites for Monsanto
      GM cereals in Britain this year''.

      He said: "They are clearly backing off GM wheat in Europe, where until
      now they were the pioneer."

      This week Margot Wallstrom, the European Union's environment
      commissioner, accused American biotechnology firms of lying about the
      benefits of GM technology and ``trying to force it on people''.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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