Damage Report Biotechnology

[ Press release of the BÖLW (in German) | Damage Report Biotechnology (in German) ]

German BÖLW presents loss report: GM agriculture incurs more costs than benefits

Press Release, Berlin, 20 March 2009, translated by GMWatch

The GM loss report– presented by the German Federation of the Organic Food Producers (Bund Ökologische Lebensmittelwirtschaft, BÖLW) in Berlin – shows that the use of genetic engineering in agriculture does not bring any macro-economic benefits. In fact, the use of GM crops incurs extreme high costs in the entire food chain. These costs are generated by strongly increasing seed prices as well as necessary measures to avoid threatening resistances, the separation of commodity flows, and analyses. Additionally, there are losses (Dazu kommen Schäden) to the tune of several billion US dollar, which where caused in corn and rice by contamination with unapproved GM. Also in farming, the at best marginal cost benefits of planting GM crops pay off only in the short-term. Clear winners from the use of GM seeds are a handful of corporations, first and foremost Monsanto, which secure high profits for themselves from seed patents.

Dr Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein, chairman of BÖLW, sums up: "It is not the farmers or consumers who make a profit from agri-GM – only the seed corporations. It is not understandable why these companies are protected from a comprehensive liability by laws, and why reviews of GM seeds with regards to environmental damages and economic impacts during the approval process are completely insufficient. We demand the inclusion of a comprehensive causer liability and a reform of the EU approval procedure. In light of this state of things, agriculture minister Ilse Aigner must stop the cultivation and resist the EU commission's request to approve now more GM corn varieties."

Christoph Then, an independent critical expert who co-authored the study, explains: "All in all, the losses through contamination with unapproved GM as well as the costs for elaborate separation of commodities add up to several billion US dollars. At the same time, various studies on the economics show that farmers are able to bring in the additional costs for the GM seeds only in exceptional cases very limited conditions. This is also true for Germany and even when the the costs of coexistence are passed on to others." He added: "GM increases the price of seeds enormously; GM seeds prices increase much faster than prices of conventional crops, without an accordant yield increase."

Completed were these statements by Stefan Rother, Frosta AG and director of the Association of organic food producers (Assoziation ökologischer Lebensmittelhersteller): "Our customers expect natural products which are produced without GM. We as enterprises want and must satisfy this. The inadequate regulation framework in the field of GM leads to the situation in which medium-sized enterprises have to bear the risks and costs that are caused by the use of genetic engineering, though we don’t want it."

Christoph Then & Antje Lorch (2009): "Schadensbericht Gentechnik", 65p.
Report for the BÖLW