Two major agricultural biotechnology companies have decided to retreat from the European market. Monsanto announced it no longer plans to sell its MON810 corn, which is genetically modified to improve pest resistance, in France despite a French court ruling in November that overturned a 2008 government ban on its sale.
“Monsanto considers that favorable conditions for the sale of the MON810 in France in 2012 and beyond are not in place,” Monsanto said in a statement.
In a second move, BASF announced it would be pulling its biotechnology research headquarters out of Germany and moving it to Raleigh, N.C. This is considered a significant move since BASF is a European company with strong ties to the region. This move is BASF’s acknowledgement that GM plants are not popular in the European Union.
“We are convinced that plant biotechnology is a key technology for the 21st century,” Stefan Marcinowski, a board member of BASF in charge of plant biotechnology, said in a statement Jan. 19. “However, there is still a lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe—from the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians. Therefore, it does not make business sense to continue investing in products exclusively for cultivation in this market.”
Organic groups will likely consider the news as a victory against corporate agricultural giants and GMO companies. Despite some progress being made with some GM varieties getting individual member state approvals, these recent announcements show biotech companies may be ending their attempt to gain acceptance for GM food in Europe.