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Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Industry figures confirm GM food is a commercial flop in Europe

GM crops still largely restricted to the Americas

*Brussels, 7 February 2012 ˆ *Annual industry figures to be released on
Tuesday are expected to confirm the commercial failure of genetically
modified (GM) food in Europe, said Greenpeace. Only around 0.06% of the
EU‚s agricultural land was used in 2011 to grow GM food, the report by the
International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications
(ISAAA), a group funded by the biotech industry to promote GM crops, is
expected to say.

Total used agricultural land in the EU amounts to around 179 million
hectares. The biotech industry figure for overall cultivation of GM food in
Europe in 2011 is expected to be just over 110,000 hectares [1].

Widespread public opposition and environmental concerns expressed by
several European governments, scientists and farmers have made GM food a
commercial flop in Europe, said Greenpeace [2]. Only Spain saw a noticeable
rise in cultivation in 2012, slightly increasing overall figures for Europe
after three consecutive years of decline [3].

The publication of the annual ISAAA industry report follows an announcement
in January by BASF, the world‚s biggest chemical company, that it was
abandoning plans to develop and commercialise GM food in Europe due to
opposition from „the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians‰ [4].
Cultivation of BASF‚s flagship antibiotic-resistant potato, known as
Amflora, has been negligible since its controversial authorisation in March
2010, under 20 hectares in 2011 [5].

The only crop that will still be grown in Europe in 2012, Monsanto‚s
pesticide-producing GM maize MON810, is still banned in seven EU countries
because of environmental and health concerns [6]. In January, Monsanto
announced that it would no longer seek to sell its GM maize in France,
saying that „favorable conditions for the sale of the MON810 in France in
2012 and beyond are not in place‰ [7].

*Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero said: **„There is
no escaping the hard facts: GM food has flopped in Europe, is increasingly
opposed in Asia and is retreating to the Americas. Public rejection and
market failure have already forced BASF to scaling back in Europe, while
Monsanto is holding on by its fingernails. Crops that are only grown on
0.06% of Europe‚s agricultural land can only be described as a failure.‰*

After 16 years of aggressive commercialisation, over 80% of global GM crop
production is still restricted to only four countries in the Americas: the
United States, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. Recent attempts to introduce
GM food to China (GM rice) and India (GM aubergine) have failed [8].


Notes to editors:*
[1] See: http://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/agrista/2010/table_en/C5-2-3522.pdf.
In comparison, the organically farmed area in the EU is almost 7.8 million
hectares (see:
[2] 61% of Europeans reject GM crops, according to EU polls (Special
Eurobarometer 341 - 73.1 on Biotechnology:
[3] In 2010-2009, cultivation of GM crops in Europe declined by 13%. In
2009-2008, the ISAAA also reported a 12% EU-wide decline (see: ISAAA,
global status of commercialized biotech/GM Crops: 2009. By Clive James,
ISAAA brief 4, pp. 181-182).
[4] BASF press release: www.basf.com/group/pressrelease/P-12-109.
[5] See: http://www.foodprocessing-technology.com/news/news109205.html.
[6] Countries with a ban on MON810 are: Germany, France, Austria, Hungary,
Greece, Luxembourg and Bulgaria.
[7] See:
[8] See:

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