Monsanto has withdrawn four requests for cultivation of GM seeds in the EU, following an earlier announcement that it was scaling back its focus on GM crops in Europe.
The US biotech giant has so far withdrawn four out of eight applications for GM maize traits in the EU. Specifically, these applications are MON810xNK603, MON89034, MON89034xMON88017 and MON89034xNK603.
Monsato’s GM maize MON810 is currently the only biotech maize being grown in the EU, which the company plans to retain.
Mark Buckingham, Monsanto’s UK spokesman, said reports in other publications stating that the company had applied for a cultivation approval of its GM super-maize SmartStax in Europe were misinformed.
“We never applied for a cultivation approval for SmartStax in Europe,” added Mr Buckingham.
“SmartStax is undergoing review for import to Europe and has received a positive scientific opinion from the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). It is not clear when a final decision may be made by the European Commission and this timing is a question for them.”
Monsanto announced in July that it would no longer be pursuing approvals for the cultivation of new biotech crops in Europe, because of the EU’s negative stance towards biotech crops.
Instead, the company said it would be focusing its European operations on investment in conventional seed production and breeding.
Mr Buckingham said: “Our European business overall is growing and we are increasing investment in conventional seed production and plant breeding for Europe.
“We see many opportunities in the EU seed market, outside Europe’s political and increasingly unscientific approach to biotechnology.”
Pete Riley, of anti-GM lobby group GM Freeze, said: “We welcome the announcement that Monsanto is now focusing on conventional crops in the EU.
“I don’t think there is any pressure at all for Europe to grow GM crops. A Europe allied with serious investment in conventional crop breeding and agro-ecology is the way forward.”