View from the fence

Social, environmental and economic issues surrounding GM foods, and the latest news

Monsanto withdraws EU applications for new crops

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This month, Monsanto confirmed that it is withdrawing all of its EU applications for approval for new crops (around 10), apparently in frustration about the delays in clearing existing crops at EU level. It does not affect clearance for existing GM seeds in Portugal and Spain.

This raises interesting questions about whether the approval process is set up to allow cultivation of crops which are safe for both human consumption and the environment*, while not being so expensive that only the largest multi-nationals can afford it.

Monsanto pulling out may be seen as good news by many, but it’s not a good reflection on the state of the EU’s approval process. Ironically, Monsanto is investing in its conventional breeding programme for the European market, which attracts much less attention from those who are anti big business.

*what does safe for the environment mean? It’s what I want the approval process to do, but quite where we set the bar and what factors we consider is more hazy in my mind. Is it that I want new crop varieties, GM or otherwise, to be no worse for the environment than existing crops?

Author: Rebecca Nesbit

I am author of a popular science book 'Is that Fish in your Tomato?' exploring the fact and fiction of GM crops. In my work and leisure so far, I have trained bees to detect explosives, used a radar to study butterflies for my PhD, written a novel, taken the train from London to China, organised Biology Week, sold science jewellery on Etsy, and traveled to four continents with Nobel Laureates. Best off all, I've made lots of friends whose support I very much appreciate. Thank you! Please visit my website:

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