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Monsanto, Germany Clash On GM Maize

U. S. biotech firm Monsanto Co. on Feb. 19 criticized Germany’s farm minister for calling into question the cultivation of maize with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Germany.

Farm Minister Ilse Aigner said in a media interview she would consider reviewing permission given to grow GMO maize (corn) in Germany as its cultivation had brought no visible benefits and was generally rejected by consumers and farmers.

She would review the approval given to Monsanto’s GMO maize type MON 810 in Germany if it was shown the company had broken any regulations about cultivation monitoring, she said in an interview with newspaper Berliner Zeitung.

Monsanto’s German unit Monsanto Agrar Deutschland said in a statement that farmers should have freedom to cultivate approved crops and that Aigner’s own food safety agency had ruled the GMO maize was safe.

“Approval authorities in Europe, including Minister Aigner’s own Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and large numbers of scientific bodies have repeatedly confirmed the safety of the corn borer-resistant maize MON 810,” a Monsanto statement said.

MON 810 has already been approved as safe for commercial cultivation by the European Union.

Aigner also said she supported moves by individual regions to declare themselves GMO-free zones. This was immensely difficult under EU rules but a solution was being sought intensively, she said.

In early February, German farmers registered intentions to plant 3,567 hectares of GMO maize for the 2009 harvest, up slightly from 3,207 in 2008.

But the total is an insignificant part of the German annual maize cultivation of around 1.8 million to two million hectares.

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