Middle of April is the deadline: that's when the maize will be sown in Germany, and according to the public register about 3700 hectare will be sown with the GM maize MON810. And the call to agricultural minister Aigner to stop the cultivation is getting louder and louder, especially after the EU environmental ministers - and among them the German minister Gabriel - confirmed the Austrian and Hungarian ban of MON810 in 2 March 2009.

Using agro-biotechnology causes high costs for the whole food production chain: through higher seed prices, methods to avoid resistance development, separation production chains and analyses. In additions there are damages of several billion US dollars in maize and rice production caused by contamination with non-approved gene constructs. Small as they are, financial gains of GM crops can only achieved over short periods.
This study provides information from a survey among German food producers and retailers as well as details of costs and damages caused by a number of contamination cases.

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

MON810 cultivation in the EU is decreasing. Not only big parts of the population, but also an increasing number of regional and national governments declare their opposition. Luxembourg is reported to consider a ban, and in the German parliament a discussion about stopping MON810 cultivation is under way.

In Bonn, 2008, efforts to set up a binding Liability and Redress system under the Carthagena Protocol to deal with damage to the biological diversity caused by GMos were derailed by industry's proposal Compact. Instead of coming to decision the negotiations were postponed further, with two additional meeting before the next MOP in Japan in 2010.
Just in time before the first of these meetings at the end of February, the biotech industries offered a revised vision, but - as expected - nothing has been improved.

Friends of the Earth published their 2009 copy of their report "who benefits from gm crops?" and that's certainly worth reading (report, summary).
Over the years there has been criticism about the cultivation figures published annually by ISAAA because Clive James repeatedly has refused to give information about where these numbers are coming from while they are continuously refered to as the only available source for GM acreage worldwide. Not surprisingly ISAAA saw an increase in 2008 again, speaking of a "historic milestone"
However, FoE come to a very different conclusion when they reviewed the last ISAAA report as well as figures given by EuropaBio. ISAAA increased the acreage it reports by simply multiplying each hectare by the number of GM traits grown on it. So a hectare of Bt maize is a hectare of GM cultivation, but a hectare of Bt maize with herbicide tolerance adds up to two hectares - at least in the eyes of ISAAA. So if all agricultural land would be grown with triple-stack crops, we suddenly would have three times as much agricultural as before?

Time and again the argument is that we - as in: the world in general - need GM crops to fight hunger worldwide.
If this argument would be correct, then a country with wide spread cultivation of GM crops, and easy approval procedures for new GM crops, should not have a hunger problem. Let's have a look at the country with the most GM cultivation, the USA.
Figures from December 2008, showed that more then 30 Million Americans now receive food stamps because they otherwise don't have enough to eat. That's 10% of the population. Figures are probably even higher because it only includes those applying for help.

The EU Commission has put forward draft decisions to approve of the two GM maize events Bt11 and 1507 for cultivation in the EU. Last year, Environmental Commissioner Dimas still had proposed not to not approve of them, but neither his colleagues nor the EFSA wanted to follow his reasoning.
The next meeting of the EU biotech committee is scheduled for 16 February and it is expected that the GM maize cultivation will be put on the agenda then.

It's a simple bit of knowledge that a lot of countries worldwide have understood years ago: Just because another country has allowed the use a specific GMO does not mean that you have to agree with their decision and/or their risk assessment.

Den Verdacht gibt es schon lange – nun weiß man Näheres: In Deutschland existiert ein enges und schwer durchschaubares Netzwerk aus Wissenschaftlern in öffentlichen Forschungseinrichtungen, Privatfirmen und den Behörden,die für die Prüfung und Zulassung der Gentech-Produkte zuständig sind.
Zusammenfassung des 2008 erschienen Berichts "Kontrolle oder Kollaboration. Agrogentechnik und die Rolle der Behörden".

Antje Lorch & Christoph Then: Kritischer Agrarbericht 2009, S. 256-260.

According to a German newspaper report there will be no Amflora cultivation in 2009. In May 2008, the EU Commission had requested an additional opinion from the EFSA after memberstates did not find a qualified majority to approve or reject BASF's application to cultivate the GM ptotato in Europe. Concerns were raised repeatedly about the antibiotic resistance marker gene nptII in Amflora, that among others concerns antibiotica used as a last resort for multi-resistant tuberculosis.
But a closer look at the Draft Decision by the EU Commission also shows that the EU Commission came to a very different conclusion about risks and risk management of Amflora cultivation. While the EFSA stated that they agreed with BASF that no case-specific monitoring was needed, the EU Commission drafted a decision in which case-specific monitoring was requested to monitor effects on potato feeding animals on and around the fields - an issue the EFSA had not even considered in its review of the application. (More details in the German report EU-Risikomanagement.)
Already in 2008 2008, BASF had sued the EU Commission for unduly delaying a decision. A new EFSA opinion was expected on 15 December, but now will only be published in March 2009 - too late for planting in 2009, independent of what the outcome of this new opinion will be.


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