Germany’s ban on Monsanto GM maize creates legal uncertainty

15 April 2009 15:28  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS news)--Germany’s decision to ban planting of Monsanto’s genetically modified maize (corn) MON 810 has created legal uncertainty and could be a setback for the country, industry groups said on Wednesday.

The ruling, by federal agricultural minister Ilse Aigner, was not based on sound scientific findings and it was not compatible with the European Union’s approval of the product, Volker Koch-Achelpohler, general manager of Frankfurt-based crop chemicals industry group Industrieverbands Agrar, said.

The German ban threatened to undermine legal certainty at a time when the country needed to invest in “green GM technology” to help meet the rising global demand for food and food crops, he said.

Deutschen Industrievereinigung Biotechnologie (DIB), the biotech group of chemical producers association VCI, said it feared that the ban was a setback for Germany as a site for biotech development and production.

Independent experts from the European Food Safety Authority had found Monsanto’s genetically modified maize safe, but the minister was not taking this into account, DIB said.

Monsanto’s office in Germany said the company was reviewing all legal and other options.

In addition to the EU, MON 810 had also been found safe in the US, Canada, Japan and many other countries, the company said.

German newspaper commentators said the ban was politically motivated. Coming in the run-up to Germany’s federal election on 27 September, it could help Chancellor Angela Merkel gain some votes.

Minister Aigner is a member of the CSU party, the Bavarian affiliate of Merkel's CDU. Farmers in Bavaria were overwhelmingly opposed to genetically modified seeds and crops, the commentators said. 

MON 810 was up till now the only genetically modified maize allowed for commercial planting in Germany. Monsanto had received approval for MON 810 from EU authorities in 1998.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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