BASF pulls out of European GM market

Ingredients and chemicals giant BASF has announced it will pull the plug on its European operations in genetically modified plant development due to a lack of acceptance in the market.

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ANH Comment

All we can say is: wonderful news for Europeans, but now it’s over to citizens in America and Asia to get a similar result there too!

Everyone knows that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) aren’t wanted in Europe – except government and the biotech companies who make GMOs, it seems. Despite being roundly rejected in the European Union (EU) marketplace over and over again, media stories about the underhand tactics being employed to sneak or force GMOs on the public are commonplace.

So it’s extremely heartening to hear that German chemicals and biotech company BASF has bowed to the inevitable and pulled its biotechnology interests out of the EU, citing, “Lack of acceptance in the market”. Good riddance, we say – don’t forget to turn the lights off when you leave. And don’t come back, either.

We hope that European campaigners are patting each other on the back right now, because this development is absolutely the result of years of sustained and dedicated campaigning: those with their eyes wide open, who can see just what a potential disaster GMOs and allied technology are for people, animals, crops and the environment in general. But BASF, important as it is, is only a single player in the biotech arena. While we’re still faced with the giddying greed of psychopathic companies like Monsanto, now is not the time to relax. We need to build on this success and make sure our governments and EU representatives know how we feel: that we won’t be happy until the GM experiment is abandoned, once and for all, and the malign influence of Monsanto and its ilk is banished to the silage heap of history.

Of course, BASF’s EU pullout means nothing for other parts of the world, and BASF has announced its intention to, “Concentrate on the growth markets for plant biotechnology in North and South America Asia”. Ridding the US marketplace of GMOs – or at least making it easy for consumers to get unbiased information about GMOs and avoid them if they want to – is proving to be an uphill task. Jeffrey Smith, author of ‘Seeds of Deception’, states for example that, “These largely unregulated ingredients [are] found in 60–70% of the foods in the US”. 91% of US soy crops are GM, along with 85% of corn and 90% of sugar beets.

However, US campaigners should take heart from some encouraging recent signs. At the end of 2011, members of the US Congress finally began to recognise the problems with GMOs, and there have been some notable legal victories over biotech companies in recent months.

So let’s take BASF’s retreat from Europe as proof positive that even biotech companies are vulnerable to the power of public opinion – and that, properly organised, we can do anything! 

Call to Action

  • Non-European countries will now be under extra pressure from multinationals like BASF and Monsanto to accept and widen access to GMOs. Wherever you live, keep the pressure on your elected representatives! Let them know, in no uncertain terms – while remaining polite and respectful, of course – that you don’t want GMOs in your country
  • Remember, the science is on your side! Use and distribute information from organisations like ANH-Europe, ANH-USA and Jeffrey Smith’s Institute for Responsible Technology

  • If you live in the USA, head to the ANH-USA site and get involved with their Action Alert, which supports two Bills currently in Congress:

  1. HR 3553, the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act, requires labeling of all genetically engineered organisms—including fish

  2. HR 3554, the Genetically Engineered Safety Act, prohibits open-air cultivation of genetically engineered pharmaceutical and industrial crops, to prevent cross-pollination and contamination, and establishes a tracking system for crops and their by-products


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