Monsanto Shifts Focus in Europe

Have you heard that Monsanto has been driven out of doing business in Europe? Not so, says the company, though they are changing the business direction in that market.

“People have said we are exiting the GMO business in Europe, but we don’t really have a business,” Jose Manuel Madero, Monsanto’s president and managing director for Europe told Reuters in an interview.

“The EU has not approved a major new biotech product for cultivation since 1998,” according to Monsanto’s blog post on the subject. “The files we intend to withdraw were submitted between three an eight years ago and have been going nowhere fast.”

In a statement released on their site, Monsanto explains that “In order to better serve farmers in Europe we will be investing several hundred million dollars in Europe over a decade to expand our conventional seed production and breeding.”

In fact, much of Monsanto’s investment will go into Ukraine, where they hope to have their largest seed production plant in Europe within five years.  This, after growing support of Monsanto’s maize varieties in the region, and Monsanto’s hope to decrease Ukraine’s dependence on imported seed.

The withdrawal of Monsanto’s pending biotech applications will leave only MON810 as a renewal file. MON810 is a biotech corn which is resistant to the European Corn Borer. Grown primarily in Spain and Portugal, it accounts for less than 1% of the cultivated corn in the EU.

Monsanto will continue to focus on pursuing the European Union to enable imports of biotech crops, while investing in conventional seed research in the EU and continued biotech research elsewhere.

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