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Germany bans cultivation of GM cornqrcode

Dec. 22, 2010

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Dec. 22, 2010
The German government has banned the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) corn, calling it "a danger to the environment."

The cultivation of all other GM crops is already banned in Germany. The variety in question, known as MON 810, produces a pesticide inside its tissues to repel insects such as larvae of the corn borer moth. Such corn is also known as Bt corn, after the Bacillus thuringiensis bacterium that the toxin-producing genes come from.

MON 810 was approved for cultivation by the European Union in 1998, but E.U. law allows individual countries to impose their own bans. Such bans have since been implemented by Austria, France, Greece, Hungary and Luxemburg. According to German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner, Germany will now join their ranks.

The move was welcomed by environmental groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth Germany. Greenpeace spokesperson Stephanie Towe said that the decision is based on solid scientific evidence of environmental harm and should have been made long ago.

Critics say that GM crops can damage wildlife, spread their genetic material to wild relatives, and produce health problems in humans.

"As an example, it is now being discovered that pollen from genetically modified corn can kill monarch butterflies," writes Ron Garner in his book Conscious Health.

"There is long-term concern that pollen from bio-engineered crops will spread and kill beneficial insects as well as create strains of superweeds that are totally-resistant to pesticides," he writes. "Genetic engineering is changing the composition of foods, and most North American consumers are uninformed on the issue."

Biotechnology giant Monsanto, manufacturer of MON 810, condemned the new ban and said it is investigating the possibility of a lawsuit. Analysts warned that the environment ministry may have trouble proving to a court's satisfaction that the crop is harmful, potentially subjecting the government to millions of dollars in fines.

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