GM giant BASF leaves Europe

Plant growing in a test tube

BASF, the German chemical giant, has announced is to end its genetically modified (GM) plant development in Europe and move it to the US, where political and consumer resistance to GM crops isn't so strong.

BASF fought for 13 years before the European Union approved them cultivating their Amflora potato, in 2010. However, German test sites had to be put under constant guard and activists still succeeded in destroying potato fields.

The company says it will transfer some GM crop development to the US but stop work on the four varieties of potato and one of wheat targeted at the European market.

Stefan Marcinowski, board member in change of plant biotechnology admitted defeat saying “There is still a lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe – [by] the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians”.

Friends of the Earth International is delighted to hear that Germany-based BASF is halting the development and commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) crops in Europe.

John Dalli, Health and Consumer Commissioner, licensed the GM crop for commercial growing in 2010. However, in the first year of cultivation BASF contaminated the potatoes with an unlicensed GM variety and they were withdrawn from the market. Two years later BASF have pulled the plug.

The German company Bayer continues to develop GM cotton and rice in Ghent, Belgium – but not for European markets.

Adrian Bebb, from Friends of the Earth Europe said "This is another nail in the coffin for genetically modified foods in Europe. No one wants to eat them and few farmers want to grow them. This is a good day for consumers and farmers and opens the door for the European Union to shift Europe to greener and more publicly acceptable farming."