Monsanto, one of the leading providers of seed for genetically modified crops has turned its back on Europe and has scrapped its plans to GM crops in the European Union. This means that they will no longer be seeking to grow GM maize, soya and sugar beet in Europe.
Apparently governments have conducted scientific tests on Monsanto products and these have all proved positive. The stumbling block seems to be political approval which should follow on from the scientific approval.
It appears that politicians still have reservations about the crops and this has resulted in general foot dragging.
On the other hand it appears that many people have reservations about Monsanto. The company has a rather tarnished track record world wide. In various parts of India crop failures have been blamed on Monsanto seed. These failure have led to a serious rise in suicide among farmers.
In 1999 the company was accused of false advertising in the UK and a similar charge was brought by the Brazilian government in2012.
This led to a world wide protest against Monsanto and genetically modified crops took place on 25th May 2013. Rallies were held in 52 countries and 436 cities.
The suspicion about GM though seems to focus on the possibility of long-term health hazards arising from GM foods. Monsanto are quick to point out that there is no evidence for this from the trials they have conducted. Their critics such as Fiends of the Earth feel that this evidence is based upon too small a sample for too short a period of time.
It may well be that GM will provide an answer to food shortages world-wide, giving rise to better crops with high yields, but one cannot help but feel that Monsanto, with its determined business plan and its need to maximise profits at all costs have shot themselves in the foot. In terms of priority they clearly see profit as a more important factor than philanthropy. When one is catering for the “poor and hungry of the world” a more balanced and inclusive approach might have achieved the results that everyone wants to see.