Today could well be a day for GM blogging I feel. As a start, GM giant Monsanto has launched a new website called GMO Answers.
GMO Answers is an initiative committed to responding to your questions about how food is grown. Its goal is to make information about GMOs in food and agriculture easier to access and understand.
I’m skeptical about how far they’ll get with this. I imagine it’s going to take a lot of moderation and they’ll be fielding a lot of angry comments from the anti-GM brigade, but I really hope there’ll be the chance for some sensible dialogue on there as well.
In a move surprising to nobody, Monsanto (the agri-super-giant responsible for ‘Roundup Ready’ maize and soy) has pulled its GM research out of Europe for the time being, citing the legislation that makes it next-to-impossible to get anything approved on this side of the pond. This comes not long after BASF Plant Science, the German agri-business responsible for one of two GM crops grown in the EU (Amflora high-starch potato) moved its base to the US due to anti-GM feeling in the EU.
The path from developing a new crop to getting it approved in Europe involves regulation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), followed by a proposal by the European Commission and subsequent voting by all of the EU member states. Although the EFSA has approved eight crops in the past decade, the European Commission hasn’t allowed them to be commerically grown, due to anti-GM feeling in some of the member states. Among the crops still waiting to be approved are three maize cultivars, and a soy bean, which are all produced by Monsanto. Three of these are to be abandoned – Monsanto will only continue to pursue one variety of GM maize (MON810), which is already grown in the EU but is up for re-approval soon. The other companies waiting for approval (duPont Pioneer and Syngenta) are still waiting.