London (05.04.17) – It seems that, according to Bayer, the debate surrounding genetically modified crops is over in Europe. “To be honest, I think that battle is probably lost,” Adrian Percy, global head of research and development with Bayer, told delegates attending Bayer’s AgVocacy Forum (1). A bit disappointing that, coming as it did from the firm which, having bought Monsanto, will be the world’s largest seed technology company.

In Mr. Percy’s view countries such as France and Germany (and some others we could mention) will not budge on their anti-GM stance so there is no point continuing the fight. But not all in Europe is lost even though in the European Union it may be so. We do take heart from the statements by the British government for GM-policy in the UK post-Brexit, a new ear maybe which will begin on March 29th, 2019 (2-4).

However, he believes it is critical that the scientific community get out in front of new technologies such as gene editing and quell consumer fears before they arise. And he is quite right to say so: the ag. biotech. industry very badly failed to deal with its public relations when GM-food products were first introduced in the mid-1990s. Let us hope that they do a better job with gene editing but do not try to pretend that there exists “good genetics” in the form of gene editing and its “bad” counterpart called “GM”.

Sources:

1. Sean Pratt (16.03.17). Speak out to avoid GM mistakes, urges Bayer. The Western Producer (http://www.producer.com/2017/03/speak-out-to-avoid-gm-mistakes-urges-bayer/)

2. Brexit + 135 days: reflections on plant breeding in the UK. CropGen (04.11.16) (http://www.cropgen.org/article_671.html)

3. The UK public and GM foods. CropGen (21.11.16) (http://www.cropgen.org/article_677.html)

4. The EU and the UK. CropGen (07.02.17) (http://www.cropgen.org/article_681.html)

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  The end of GM in Europe? Perhaps not quite yet