13 April 1998
Monsanto admits mishandling of spin on GMs
Monsanto has called for genetically modified (GM) crops to be separated at source from traditional foods and has admitted that it has misjudged consumers concerns.
The huge US chemical company which is facing mounting opposition in Europe to its GM crops has also challenged the British food industry to label all traditional food as “GM-free”. The industry, which has strongly resisted this form of words, prefers to label selectively crops derived wholly from GM crops.
Two company spokesmen admit in a report in The Guardian that the company underestimated the ethical and scientific concerns and pushed its products on to the market without explanation.
The company reports rapid growth in the use of GM crops. It said 50 million acres of its soya, maize and cotton are now planted in the US. This compares with just 2 million acres in 1996. It expects the acreage to double within two years as varieties of cassava, potatoes and oil seed rape become available.
Monsanto has made an about-turn on the separation of GM food demanded by environmentalists. It has previously claimed it was unnecessary, impractical or too costly. The company officials now say consumers should have a “right” to buy GM-free foods.
The companys apparent change of heart comes as it prepares to embark on a multi-million pound marketing drive.