German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner announced early this week a ban on the cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) corn in Germany for environmental reasons.
This will come as a blow to agri-giant Monsanto as their MON 810 was previously the only GM crop that could be grown in Germany.
MON810 is genetically engineered to produce a modified insecticide (Cry1Ab) that naturally occurs in the soil; bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).This toxin fights the larvae of the corn borer moth.
Greenpeace took leaf samples of commercially cultivated MON810 a few years ago to test for Bt toxin (Cry1Ab) concentration. A total of 619 samples from 12 fields were analysed and found a surprising pattern of plants that contained only very low Bt toxin levels, but high levels could be observed in some plants – differing by a factor of as much as 100.
Gene exchange between MON810 maize and other cultivated maize can also occur – raising the specter of neighboring farmers being prosecuted for breaching the “owners” patent when their non-GM crops become infected with MON810 corn purely by natural means – and there are documented cases of this sort of thing happening.
However, according to an article on Spiegel, it will be hard to prove conclusively that MON 810 damages the environment, which could enable Monsanto challenge the ban and potentially expose the government to $7.9-9.2 million in damages.
I find the whole GM crop issue incredibly disturbing; particularly after viewing this documentary (which can be viewed in entirety online) : The World According to Monsanto.