It’s interesting that the feeling against genetically-modified foods in Europe and the UK is still so strong that a major GM company feels forced to move. The assumption was, among industry insiders, that consumer opposition to GM crops would die down after some time, but this doesn’ t appear to have worked.
After battling for about 13 years to get the European Union to approve cultivation of its Amflora potato, which was intended to provide high-quality starch for industrial customers, the German chemical giant BASF is finally signalling defeat and moving its genetically modified plant headquarters to the US where “consumer resistance to GM crops” is not so intense.
Perhaps the nail in the coffin was that despite being put under constant guard, activists still succeeded in destroying the test potato fields on a regular basis.
BASF Plant Science will move from Limburgerhof in south-west Germany to Raleigh, North Carolina, and two smaller sites in Germany and Sweden will close. The company will transfer some GM crop development to the US but stop work on crops targeted at the European market – four varieties of potato and one of wheat.
This move is a loud bellweather for the future of genetically-modified crops in Europe. It means that they are giving up and going away. That just leaves the only other GM producer in Europe, Bayer in Ghent Belgium. But Bayer, quite sensibly, are developing GM cotton and rice for markets outside Europe.
Those against GMO farming. such as environmental campaigners, are relieved and pleased.
“This is another nail in the coffin for genetically modified foods in Europe,” said Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth.
It was thought to be a recent European commission proposal to give member states greater leeway to decide for themselves about GM crops that caused BASF to see the writing on the wall. This despite the commission president, José Manuel Barroso, continually lobbying to wrest European law making over food away from ‘an unfriendly environment commissioner and into the “more receptive hands of consumer affairs’, an organisation more susceptible to pressure from the World Trade Organisation.
Said Stefan Marcinowski, board member in charge of biotechnology, BASF was not prepared to wait any longer for a change in sentiment.
“There is still a lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe by the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians,” he said. “Therefore, it does not make business sense to continue investing in products exclusively for cultivation in this market.”
GM Advice for UK Shoppers
We believe that the next announcement from UK supermarkets will be that they can longer guarantee that their own brand products are GM-free. Even currently, they cannot and do not guarantee that their non-own brand products are GM-free.
For that reason, we at The Therapy Book have been developing a phone app which will enable you to easily identify, in one swipe, which foods in UK supermarkets contain GM ingredients, or animals that are reared on GM feed.
At least that way, you and your family will have a choice about what you eat. And if we ‘vote with our wallets’, that may at least have some effect ~ the profit bottom line being the only language these sociopathic purveyors of Frankenfoods understand.
If you’d like to receive a free version of the phone app to test when it’s ready, please fill in this contact form.
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