Brussels, Belgium – The refusal of Latvia and Greece to grow Monsanto GM corn brings the total number of European countries to publicly oppose the cultivation of genetically modified crops to five.
While an estimated 92 percent of corn grown in the U.S. in 2014 was genetically modified, Monsanto's pest-resistant MON810 is the only GM crop allowed to be grown in Europe – but only if a country allows it.
France, Germany and Scotland have all stated their opposition to GMO cultivation in their own states, but have not yet requested an opt-out from the growing of MON810, as the European Commission confirmed to Reuters that only Lativia and Greece had asked to be excluded from Monsanto’s request to grow their GM corn in the EU.
In March, a new rule was passed by the EU, which allows individual countries to opt out of cultivating certain GM crops even if they are approved for EU wide use.
While Monsanto insists it’s crop is safe, many Europeans fear a loss of biodiversity if the GM corn takes hold on the European continent and question the safety of related chemicals such as glycophate.
The U.S. agribusiness industry has worked tirelessly to open the European markets to American GM crops, amidst fierce opposition from the public.
Genetically modified foods are an integral piece of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal, which will require the EU to fully open their doors to the U.S. GMO industry.
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According to Reuters, Monsanto responded to Latvia's decision to opt-out, claiming that it "contradicts and undermines the scientific consensus on the safety of MON810".
"Nevertheless, we regret that some countries are deviating from a science-based approach to innovation in agriculture and have elected to prohibit the cultivation of a successful GM product on arbitrary political grounds," the statement said.
In the U.S., the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, better known to anti-GMO activists as the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act. The bill preempts state laws that mandate GMO labeling, essentially making it impossible for Americans to determine if their food is genetically modified.
Meanwhile, in Mexico, under constant lobbying from the U.S. government and major corporations to embrace GMO crops, a Mexican judge overturned a ban on MON810. The ban had prevented the licensing of fields where the crop could be tested for the Mexican market. The major fear across Mexico is that the GM corn would endanger Mexico’s more than 60 indigenous varieties of corn.
While Americans are essentially asleep at the wheel, and the Mexican government has recently sold out to Monsanto, it's clear that Europe is beginning to pushing back against the predatory practices of big U.S. biotech companies.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has been published on BenSwann's Truth in Media, Truth-Out, AlterNet, InfoWars, MintPressNews and many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.