Reality-Check
July 3, 2014
Talking Nonsense at Sum of Us

MONS09_1729By Mark Buckingham, Monsanto Public Affairs

Agriculture is a practical business.

Farmers plant seeds in the soil and with skill, knowledge and the right tools, plus a favourable climate, bring in a harvest. That harvest yield is measured and tells the farmer if it has been a good season. There is no hiding the result or pretending crops performed differently to how they actually did.

Farming’s tradition of practicality and facts can make it hard to deal with the free-wheeling world of spin and politics that sometimes surrounds public discussion of GM crops.   The latest example of such spin comes from the online campaign machine “Sum of Us”.

Sum of Us launched a petition calling for people to oppose Monsanto’s Roundup Ready maize, which the group claims could be growing in Europe next year. The group says more than 100,000 people signed up to its petition.

There’s just one problem with the premise of this petition: It’s completely, utterly, ignorantly bonkers.

For starters, Sum of Us seems to have missed the fact that Monsanto in Europe is focused on non-GM, conventionally bred seeds.

They also seem to have missed the fact that we have no RoundupReady seeds approved for cultivation in Europe, and that the process for getting them approved takes many many years, given the EU’s infamously complicated, expensive and slow approval process. See: http://www.europabio.org/sites/default/files/position/europabio_undue_delays_update_june_2014_0.pdf.

So no, Sum of Us and those fine folk who signed your petition, we won’t be selling, and farmers won’t be planting, any RoundupReady crops from Monsanto in Europe next year.

In fact, Monsanto’s only application for permission to cultivate a GM crop in Europe is for a seed product used primarily by Spanish and Portuguese farmers to protect maize plants from destructive insects that otherwise would need to be fought with powerful insecticides.

This seed, known as MON810, was approved for planting in Europe in 1998 and it has been successfully and safely planted here for over a decade, leading to reductions in pesticide use, higher yields and greater income for the farmers who choose to grow it, according to European Union research. See: https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/sites/default/files/jrc_080624_newsrelease_bt_maize_en.pdf.

MON810 is the only GM trait that Monsanto will supply to European farmers in 2015 or any time soon.

Sum of Us also claims that after lobbying by the biotech industry, the European Council is proposing new laws to allow GM crops to be planted. In fact, Monsanto has consistently opposed these changes, which are subtitled “the possibility for the Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMO’s in their territory”.

Does that sound like a new law the biotech industry would call for? For our real position on this law, please see the related blog post here: http://monsantoblog.eu/the-day-the-eu-buried-science-eu-environment-ministers-put-populism-before-facts/.

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