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[genet-news] GMO-FREE REGIONS & REGULATION: Monsanto sues Germany over GMO maize ban

                                  PART 1

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SOURCE: Reuters, UK

AUTHOR: Eva Kuehnen


DATE:   21.04.2009

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FRANKFURT, April 21 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co , the world?s biggest seed company, has filed suit against the German government?s decision to ban genetically modified (GMO) maize, the company said on Tuesday.

The German government banned the cultivation and sale of GMO maize despite European Union rulings that the biotech grain is safe.

The ban affects Monsanto?s MON 810 maize, which may no longer be sown for this summer?s harvest, the government said.

A Monsanto spokesman said Germany?s action to restrict Mon 810 was an ?arbitrary ban? that violated EU rules.

He said EU member states can invoke a safeguard clause against an already approved plant but such a move required new scientific evidence and none existed to support the ban.

?They are in conflict with EU rules,? the spokesman said.

The lawsuit, filed in the administrative court in Braunschweig in northern Germany, was first reported by the Handelsblatt newspaper. (Additional reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City) (Reporting by Eva Kuehnen, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

                                  PART 2

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SOURCE: Reuters, UK

AUTHOR: Svetlana Kovalyova


DATE:   18.04.2009

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CISON DI VALMARINO, Italy, April 18 (Reuters) - Germany does not expect the European Commission to seek to stop its ban on cultivation and sale of genetically modified (GMO) maize, German Agriculture and Consumer Protection Minister said.

But it does expect a legal action from U.S. biotech company Monsanto whose MON 810 maize will be affected by the ban which was announced this week, Ilse Aigner told reporters on the sidelines of the farm ministers meeting in northern Italy.

?I do not think that the EU Commission is going to start legal proceedings now...they hinted at the fact that they are not going to do so,? Aigner said via an interpreter.

?But we are expecting legal proceedings from Monsanto,? she said without giving more details.

Germany?s decision contradicts the European Union rulings that the biotech grain is safe and the EU Commission, the bloc?s executive arm, said on Tuesday it would examine the German move.

Monsanto has said it would consider legal options to enable GMO seeds to be planted for this year?s harvest, if the ban was confirmed.

France, Austria, Hungary, Greece and Luxembourg have banned MON 810 maize despite its approval by the EU for commercial use throughout the bloc, and Aigner said the issue was being discussed with other EU countries.

Italy?s Agriculture Minister Luca Zaia, an opponent of GMO crops, told reporters he welcomed Germany?s decision.

Both ministers spoke on the margins of the first-ever meeting of farm ministers from the Group of Eight industrialised countries and major developing nations which runs from Saturday to Monday in northern Italy.

Aigner reiterated her position that the ban was an individual decision based on a scientific research and was not a political move against all GMO crops.

The MON 810 maize is resistant to corn borer, an insect whose caterpillars damage maize plants.

(Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova)

                                  PART 3

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SOURCE: Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, Germany

AUTHOR: Press Release


DATE:   16.04.2009

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Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina / DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft / DAAD - Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst / FhG - Fraunhofer Gesellschaft / Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren / HRK - Hochschulrektorenkonferenz / WGL - Leibniz-Gemeinschaft / MPG - Max-Planck-Gesellschaft / Wissenschaftsrat

Germany?s Federal Minister for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Ilse Aigner, has banned the cultivation of genetically modified maize. The ban took effect immediately on 14 April. The minister noted that the ban is an isolated decision on a particular case, not a fundamental rejection of green genetic engineering. Europe?s highest licensing authority, the EFSA, had previously expressed no reservations about the cultivation of genetically modified maize. Germany?s science and research community is very concerned that this decision will reinforce the tendency to approach this technology in an irrational manner and cause irreparable damage to Germany?s potential as a location for the further development of what is likely to be an important technology in the future.

The German Science Organisations fully support an exploration of the opportunities and possible uses of green genetic engineering in Germany. Such exploration includes the impartial investigation of safety issues and potential risks. A broad range of in-depth scientific research of this kind has been taking place in Germany for years. This research is largely funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the state governments ? either directly, or indirectly via organisations they fund ? or is carried out in a special research department at the Federal Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. This research has never produced reliable findings that would even remotely suggest the need to abandon the technology.

A complete rejection of green genetic engineering would do lasting damage to Germany as a location for research. Genetic engineering techniques derived from molecular biology offer a unique opportunity to develop more valuable, more environmentally friendly, more productive cash crops in this era of climate change. This view is consistent with findings from research funded by the federal government and with research findings from abroad concerning the risks of green genetic engineering versus classical plant breeding methods.

The ban poses the danger that unfounded fear could take the place of rational scientific information. The minister?s comment that the ban is an isolated decision on a particular case cannot compensate for the negative impact it will have on Germany?s status as a research-friendly country and the fact that it is diametrically opposed to future-minded advancement.

For all these reasons, we are fully opposed to any general ban on genetically engineered products. We urge politicians to lead a more logical discussion of the topic and to create reliable framework conditions for research into and scientific consultation on the future uses of green genetic engineering. We therefore enthusiastically endorse Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan?s proposal for a roundtable discussion that would include scientists and politicians and send a clear signal regarding future research into genetically modified crops.

                                  PART 4

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SOURCE: Wissenschaftlerkreis Grüne Gentechnik, Germany

AUTHOR: Petition


DATE:   17.04.2009

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In April 2009 German Federal Minister Aiger decided to ban GM crops for political reasons...this site will allow you to support the 1600 German scientists who have signed an open letter of protest

In an open letter ( [Wissenschaftlerkreis Grüne Gentechnik e.V. (WGG),]) more than 1,600 scientific signatories have already appealed to German Federal Minister Aigner not to sacrifice a future technology with great potential for reasons of short sighted political interest.

On the contrary, the scientists request that Minister Aiger makes scientific knowledge the basis of political decisions and the education of the population. Below is the English translation of the original German letter.....if inclined please sign it below and your name will be added to the already 1,600+ scientists who have signed it. The signatures will soon be presented to Minister Aigner.


Dear Federal Minister Aigner,

We learn with amazement, that scientifically unfounded calls from a range of CSU politicians for an outrageous ban on GM crops, even on research field experiments for so called safety reasons. This really astounds the signatories below and actually will lead to a massive blockade of research in crop biotechnology.

It is unfortunately not new, that politicians completely ignore the results of extensive field research, which is supported by the German government. It is therefore not surprising that the public still believes that the possible negative impact of the cultivation of genetically modified plants are still unknown. Instead of countering these unfounded opinions with solid facts, it seems that CSU politicians are now strangely/oddly arguing that the research activities on GM safety are too risky. This is the unanimous opinion of the specialists of genetic engineering, united in the WGG.

We scientists criticize the politicians as that the many opportunities to educate the public concerning the green genetic engineering have not been taken up actively. It is clear, that the facts related to safety have not changed and to our knowledge, genetically engineered crops do not pose a greater risk than conventional ones. Still, many politicians prefer to come out with vague and sometimes populist statements in order to encourage the fears and cause doubts. Doubts must be addressed, but they should not be magnified on the basis of unconfirmed arguments and it is important on the contrary to give factual clarifications.

Still one year ago, the former Minister of Agriculture Seehofer (also CSU) spoke very positively about the high quality of the German GM biosafety legislation which should actually encourage GM safety research in Germany. But we also ask, what does it help to have a solid legislation, if it is not supported by the politicians themselves ? And what are even the most solid scientific data good for, when it is blatantly ignored, if it doesn?t fit in the political picture?

We sincerely urge you not to sacrifice a technology with great potential for shortsighted political posturing. Please make sure that you start a dialogue with the experts in their relevant research areas and make use of their scientific knowhow both for your political decisions and to allow for the fact based education of the population

Yours sincerely,


(upon submission you will be brought to an article by a young German research)



European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)

news & information

phone....... +49-531-5168746

fax......... +49-531-5168747

email....... news(*)

skype....... hartmut_meyer


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