Monsanto Sues Germany over GM Maize Ban

6 May 2009

Multinational agriculture giant Monsanto has followed through with its lawsuit against the German government over its recent decision to ban the cultivation of MON810, a strain of genetically modified maize that the firm produces. Berlin claims that its ban is based on environmental concerns, but Monsanto insists that the product, which has been approved by the EU, is safe to use.

With the announcement of the ban earlier this month, Germany became the sixth European country to prohibit the cultivation of the modified seed (see Bridges Trade BioRes, 17 April 2009, http://www.ictsd.org/bridges-news/biores/news/monsanto-mulls-legal-action-as-germany-bans-mon810). Austria, France, Greece, Hungary and Luxembourg have also forbidden farmers from using MON810, despite pressure from the European Commission to allow its use. The EC approved the use of the GM maize, which is designed to resist pests, more than a decade ago, but the seed is cultivated in only seven of the European bloc's 27 member countries. Germany has allowed farmers to grow MON810 since 2005.

Brad Mitchell, a spokesperson for Monsanto, told ICTSD that the company currently has no plans to launch lawsuits against the other countries that have banned MON810, but he did not rule this out. "We reserve the right to challenge any actions taken arbitrarily that would deny farmers access to technologies that can contribute to a more sustainable agriculture," Mitchell said. He said any future legal action would be determined "on a case-by-case basis."

Monsanto insists that in order for the German ban to be legal Berlin would have to present new scientific evidence that puts the safety of the product in question. Mitchell says no such evidence has been put forward.

Media sources reported that the lawsuit was filed in the administrative court in Braunschweig, roughly 200 kilometres west of Berlin.

ICTSD reporting. "Monsanto sues Germany over GMO maize ban," REUTERS, 21 April 2009.

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