The worldwide war between chemical companies and environmentalists continues. There was a victory of sorts this month when BASF, the world’s largest chemical company headquartered in Germany, announced it was no longer developing genetically modified plants solely for cultivation in Europe and was moving its plant-science headquarters from Germany to Raleigh, North Carolina. When questioned, Stefan Marcinowski, a member of the BASF board of executive directors, cited “a lack of acceptance for this technology in many parts of Europe – from the majority of consumers, farmers and politicians.” The company indicated it would increase its focus on selling these products in the Americas and Asia.
The back story of this announcement is that BASF is admitting defeat in its efforts to gain acceptance for its genetically modified crops in Europe. After many years of lobbying and public debate of the merits of these crops, it has thrown in the towel. As one would expect in a political process, chemical companies would secure regulatory approval from the European Commission (a political agency) only to encounter widespread and vocal opposition in the market. This is one of those cases where corporate money and political influence was not enough to roll over market forces and consumer sentiment in individual countries. BASF follows Monsanto who made a similar decision to not develop crops for the EU market some time ago.
This battle in Europe mirrors the struggle that is taking place worldwide where chemical companies are using money, political influence, and detractors charge, false claims to take genetic control of crops that feed the majority of the world’s population. It is not surprising that the two most technically developed regions in the world are at odds over genetic crop utilization. The United States pioneered genetic crop engineering following the lead of Monsanto, headquartered in Missouri, with its “Round-Up-Ready” crops, while the EU looked at the technology with far less enthusiasm and much greater consideration of the potential negative impacts. Unfortunately, the chemical companies are making inroads in less developed and less sophisticated counties around the world having gained approvals in Africa, South America and smaller countries in Asia.
Use the following links for more information on genetically engineered crops around the world:
GM Crops in Europe:
GM Crops in Asia:
GM Crops in Africa:
GM Crops in South America: