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30/09/2016

Agri-giants pull GM maize out of Germany

Agriculture & Food

Agri-giants pull GM maize out of Germany

Germans are engaged in a long-running debate as to whether the government or regions should be responsible for banning GM crops, such as maize.

[CIAT/Flickr]

Four large seed companies will no longer grow genetically modified maize in Germany. “We have achieved our goal,” said Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt on Tuesday (3 November). EurActiv Germany reports.

Genetically modified varieties of maize will no longer be grown commercially in the country.

At the end of September, Schmidt requested a ban on the cultivation of eight GM maize varieties. In October, Swiss agribusiness Syngenta withdrew two varieties, and, along with Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer and Dow Agroscience, lodged no objections within the appeal period. The European Commission confirmed this on Tuesday (3 November).

Earlier this year, the EU changed its procedure for admitting GM crops. The approval of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and majority support from the member states is no longer sufficient for the seed producers. EU countries are now able to set agricultural policy objectives and provide extra reasons to ban the cultivation of the crops within their borders.

>>Read: Germany opts out of growing GMO crops

The German agriculture ministry’s request for a ban was based on their opinion that the growing of genetically modified maize is incompatible with what is normally grown in Germany. There were fears that such cultivation would have negative consequences on conventional and organic crops.

The spokesperson for the German Greens parliamentary group on genetic engineering, Harald Ebner, criticised the development, saying that it was not a real ban. An actual basis for GMO bans is urgently needed. The German regions have submitted a draft, but the ruling coalition is refusing to bring it before the Bundestag.

Schmidt highlighted that he had already submitted a proposal in February, which was amended in June. The government and the regions now have a shared responsibility to create a solid platform that will allow GM crops to be banned in Germany.

>>Read: 15 member states opt out of GMO culture

The minister pointed out that justifications for banning the crops would have to come from individual regions, for example, Bavaria’s agriculture is structured differently and affected by different factors than Brandenburg.

On the other hand, the regions and the SPD have called for the government to take sole jurisdiction.