Genetically modified crops have attracted criticism over the world. Especially in Europe and Denmark, where it now seems to be completely finish with GMO crops. Cultivation of GM crops has caused great debate. Now, the last of the food that cultivated GMOs in Denmark chose to drop cultivation.
Monsanto has been in the process of testing the possibilities of production of various GM crops in Denmark, but it is now ended, ABC News, in collaboration with the Center for Investigative Journalism in Denmark (Investigative Reporting Denmark) tell.
In Europe, Monsanto sells only GM maize in the three countries. GMO corn is less than one percent of the EU’s growing maize on land. Field trials are only started in three countries. We will not spend more money to convince people to plant them, says Brandon Mitchener as PR Officer for Monsanto in Europe.
GMO upoplært across Europe
The decision was made behind closed doors, and the company saw no reason to tell about it. Even if it means that all food businesses has now abandoned GM crops in Denmark – and most of Europe.
It is not surprising when you know chemical company BASF stopped their biotech trials in Europe in 2012 and agro company Syngeta moved their studies several years earlier. This will have an effect on the international spread of GM crops globally, says Klaus Sall has studied GM industry for several years and has just released a progress report on the development of GM crops in the EU.
From the Danish authorities confirm you that it’s over with GM crops in Denmark.
At the moment there is no GM crop trials in Denmark registered with Nature Business Authority, says Kristine Riskær who is Head of Seeds and Plants at NaturErhversstyrelsen, in cooperation with the EPA’s authority in connection with trials of GM crops in Denmark.
She notes, however, that in principle can get request for new field trials in the future.
Too much complaining throughout Europe
The cultivation of GM crops in Denmark has so far been on a trial basis. Experiments which should lead to a genuine production of, for example, genetically modified maize among other Danish fields.
But the last field trials, the company behind Monsanto, now stopped. Partly because of consumer resistance to GM food and partly by poor test results.
Will only work where there is a happy consumers
The principle want Monsanto to sell biotech seeds in countries where there is widespread support for them among consumers and politicians, while there must be a working, research-based regulated system. Conditions which are only present in a few countries in Europe today, says Brandon Mitchener.
He explains further that Monsanto stopped most field trials, including in Denmark, as a result of a strategic decision in 2011 to focus the company’s activities in Europe on conventional crops.
Danish agricultural capsized adventure
Talk about GM crops in Danish farmland were given extra momentum in 2009, when then-Agriculture and Food Minister Eva Kjer Hansen presented Monsanto’s first three attempts in the production of GM crops in Denmark.
She told then that in three years time, Denmark would be ready to accept genetically modified crops, and many farmers would grow them. She even invited the Danish press corps on farm visits in Tystofte by Skaelskoer to talk about Danish agricultural next adventure.
Two years later expanded Monsanto their field trials for another year by a total of five different crops. The results of the studies have never been published, therefore the Center for Investigative Journalism in Denmark and Transparency parliament sought access .
Bad GM maize stopped future
The procedure is that the authorities shall test new crops being tested for two years before they may be approved for sale and cultivation in Denmark. It turns out that field trials failed in the second year. In February 2011, the authorities refused one of GM crops from Monsanto on the basis of field experiments.
Specifically, it was about GM maize, which should be resistant to the herbicide Round-Up, but since GM maize only developed 97 percent compared to conventional maize, Monsanto should not expect to get yes for cultivation in Denmark.
Devastating that companies can stop bad results
Then canceled Monsanto other field trials before they were finished. And therefore avoided further discussion of these trials. Centre for Investigative Journalism has tried to gain access to the study results – without success.
It is devastating to the scientific method when firms may decide that only positive results are published. This is a good example of the need for a requirement that companies must accept free access to their GMO seeds for scientific studies when they are approved for import into the EU, says Klaus Sall.
Monsanto says the Center for Investigative Journalism (Investigative Reporting Denmark) in Denmark that some of the results from field experiments will be published later this year.
Those advocating for improvements to our broken food system have, of late, had little to crow about. However, in recent years, a growing movement to label foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has begun showing real promise. While the food industry continues to make unsubstantiated and deceptive claims that GMO labels would be confusing or increase food costs, polls show that more than 90 percent of Americans favor GMO labeling. And the states are listening. At least 20 states have proposed legislation requiring that genetically engineered foods be labeled.
Last year Connecticut overcame industry lobbying and became the first state in the nation to enact such a law, and on Jan. 9, Maine’s governor signed that state’s GMO-labeling bill into law. Unfortunately, after some legislative tussling, both measures have significant so-called trigger clauses that require other states to enact similar policies before the laws can take effect.
Meanwhile, high-profile, close-margin voter-initiative losses in California in 2012 and Washington state last year raised much awareness and emboldened similar efforts to move propositions forward in Oregon and Colorado this year. Legislatures in several states — including Vermont, New Hampshire and New York — are also currently weighing GMO labeling bills.
This momentum is becoming a very expensive headache for the biotechnology and processed-food industries. Opposing the two ballot initiatives in California and Washington cost corporations more than $67 million. Never mind how in the Washington battle, food companies tried to illegally laundertheir campaign donations through their lobbying group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and got caught in the act. (The case has yet to go to trial, but the GMA has filed a countersuit claiming the law is invalid.)
Now that noble organization, which represents such food-industry giants as PepsiCo and Kraft, has a new trick up its sleeve: a so-called federal solution. Admittedly, the food industry ideally should not have to follow 50 states’ different laws dictating how products should be labeled. But the GMA’s way out of this conundrum is to call for a voluntary scheme that would at the same time wipe out the ability of states to require labeling — a legal concept known as pre-emption. In other words, the industry’s federal solution would make it illegal for states to pass laws requiring GMO labeling, and at the national level, there will still be no mandatory law.
More states must flex their political muscle to remind federal leaders that Americans want transparency about the food they eat.
The GMA’s complete scheme to stop the progress of labeling laws in the states (and the hole in their pockets) was recently revealed in an internal document made public by Politico. Included on the lobbyists’ audacious wish list for Congress and the Food and Drug Administration was a self-certifying “mandatory premarket notification” scheme, in which companies would drop a note to the FDA informing it of any new GMO products to be released for public consumption; if the FDA does not object within 90 days, then food companies could claim the product is government approved. This is similar to Facebook’s claim that users have agreed to its data-collection policy simply by signing up. The arrangement is also similar to the current “generally recognized as safe” self-certification process, in which the FDA allows food makers to claim that new food additives are safe, without government confirmation — an industry-friendly system that has been sharplycriticized.
If the GMA were to get its way, not only would food companies be able to make claims about the “absence of bioengineered ingredients” in its products (something that companies are already doing through third-party certifiers such as the Non-GMO Project), but also the FDA would develop corporate-friendly regulations on GMO-free claims that would allow a company to call products from cows fed genetically modified grains GMO-free.
Also on the industry’s shopping list: an FDA-developed definition for the “natural” label on foods. This issue has become so contentious that it has already led to numerous legal battles. Recently the FDA explicitly declined a court request to decide if food companies can use the natural label on products containing GMOs. (Apparently it is not an agency priority.) In an effort to curtail further litigation, lobbyists want the FDA to allow the industry to engage in this deception. But how can a technology novel enough to get patent protection also be natural?
Details aside, the true agenda behind this ambitious proposal is to put an end to the copious amounts of negative publicity that food makers have been enduring as Americans increasingly wake up to what they are eating. (One of the lobbyists’ ideas was that GMOs be renamed “bioengineered foods,” presumably because that phrase polls better among shoppers.) Especially harmful to Big Food’s reputation has been the revelation that many beloved organic- and natural-food brands are, in fact, owned by massive food conglomerates that are funding anti-GMO-labeling campaigns. For example, General Mills took a lot of heat when consumers of its organic Cascadian Farms brand realized the parent company was funding the opposition during the California initiative. Similarly, Coca-Cola is the target of a consumer boycott of the company’s healthier brands such as Honest Tea and Odwalla over its continued opposition to GMO labeling.
While a federal solution may be necessary, the GMA proposal is a far cry from what consumers are demanding and only shows the food industry’s desperation. If the industry gets its way, shoppers will remain in the dark about which foods contain GMOs. Meanwhile, the state-level policy efforts should continue to move forward. More states must flex their political muscle to remind federal leaders that Americans want transparency about the food they eat. Now that the junk-food lobby’s true agenda has been revealed, federal representatives are on notice: Your constituents will be holding you accountable to ensure that this democracy-killing power grab does not come to fruition.
Michele Simon is a public health lawyer, president of Eat Drink Politics, and author of “Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines Our Health and How to Fight Back.”