The debate over genetically modified organisms, GMOs, is a contentious one, splitting the agricultural and scientific community. While there is still significant disagreement as to the safety of GMOs, opposition to GMOs is a major economic detriment.
While American farmers and politicians have tentatively accepted GMOs (Monsanto, the agricultural giant responsibly for much of the research into genetically modified foods, is headquartered in the United States), European policymakers have been more hesitant.
To date, the European Union has approved only a single genetically grain for widespread cultivation, a Monsanto brand of insect-resistant corn. While the European Commission may approve cultivation of this crop, its adoption sparked widespread outrage and governments in Greece, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Luxembourg, and Bulgaria have banned it.
Farmers and scientists argue that GMOs in other countries grow more efficiently than their non-modified counterparts. GMOs can reduce costs and increase output, making them very appealing to many farmers. The unwillingness to embrace GMOs could mean that “Europe will lose in terms of competitiveness compared with the rest of the world,” said the director of the French oilseeds technical institute Cetiom.
In addition to lost market competition, hostility to GMOs could drive away scientific and agricultural research. Some of the top seed makers have given up on developing GMOs in the EU and major biotech companies are pulling their research from several EU nations. According to the chair of the French Chamber of Agriculture, “All researchers are now abroad. This is an intolerable situation that does not allow us to prepare for the future.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer