Lobbying And GMO Giant Monsanto Buckles In Europe

Wolf Richter's picture

Wolf Richter   www.testosteronepit.com   www.amazon.com/author/wolfrichter

The “March Against Monsanto” in 52 countries, an unapproved strain of its genetically modified wheat growing profusely in Oregon, cancelled wheat export orders.... A rough week for Monsanto.

But now it threw in the towel in Europe – where its genetically modified seeds have faced stiff resistance at every twist and turn. Even its deep corporate pockets and mastery of lobbying have failed: “It’s counterproductive to fight against windmills,” its spokesman told the Tageszeitung.

The propitious week started last Saturday with the “March Against Monsanto,” when people in over 400 cities in 52 countries protested against the company, its influence over governments, and its GMO seeds. Much of it was focused on the mundane issue of labeling. Protesters wanted GMO ingredients in food to show up on the label, just like fat or protein. A simple solution to the controversy: let consumers decide.

But a red line for the industry. It’s worried that consumers will read the label – and choose an alternative. So Monsanto continued to assure us through its minions that labeling would be too costly, that it would kill the cupcake shop down the street, that we don’t need to know anyway because GMO foods are safe for human consumption, etc. etc.

These assurances bring up echoes from the past. Monsanto’s previous flagship products included the once harmless DDT, now banned worldwide; a family of industrial chemicals called PCBs that are now considered highly toxic; Agent Orange, the defoliant liberally used during the Vietnam War and promoted as harmless to people, with grave results for the Vietnamese and US soldiers who came in contact with it. And there was saccharine, the sweetener that ended up being a carcinogen. More recently, Monsanto reinvented itself and decided to save mankind not with a DDT successor, but with genetically modified seeds, whether people wanted them or not.

The hubbub of the “March Against Monsanto” had barely died down when the USDA confirmed that genetically modified wheat was mysteriously growing on a farm in Oregon. Something that we’d been assured could never happen. Numerous impenetrable precautions would prevent that. Monsanto had developed that strain years ago, but field trials ended in 2004, and the thing had never been approved for sale or consumption. The reaction was immediate.

Japan would “refrain from buying western white and feed wheat effective today,” a Japanese farm ministry official announced on Thursday, adding that the ministry is pressing the USDA for details of its investigation. US wheat imports would be on hold until at least a test kit is available to identify GMO wheat, he said. South Korea, which bought about half of its wheat imports from the US last year, announced that it would suspend imports of US wheat. The EU’s consumer protection office announced that any shipments that tested positive for GMO could not be sold in the EU. Other countries were making similar announcements. And everyone is badgering Washington for more information.

GMO contaminations have occurred before, most notoriously in 2006, when much of the US long-grain rice crop had been contaminated by an experimental strain of genetically modified rice concocted by Bayer CropScience. Japan and Europe banned imports of American rice, which caused its price to collapse in the US. The company settled with rice farmers in 2011 for $750 million. But rice export is small business in the US, compared to wheat. And this time, it’s Monsanto that is on the hot seat.

And now Monsanto threw in the towel in Europe where its efforts to bamboozle people into loving its seeds have had mixed results. “We won’t lobby any longer for cultivation in Europe,” Brandon Mitchener, Monsanto’s public affairs lead for Europe, told the Tageszeitung. They had no plans to apply for the approval of new genetically modified crops “at this time,” he said, and the company would also forgo new field trials with GMO seeds.

Monsanto’s largest European competitors – Bayer CropScience, BASF, and Syngenta – had already pulled out of the GMO crop business in Germany and many other Member States. “We understand that this doesn’t have wide acceptance right now,” chimed in Ursula Lüttmer-Ouazane, Monsanto’s spokeswoman in Germany.

Mitchener blamed it on the lack of interest from farmers. They have their reasons: in Germany, the cultivation of genetically modified crops is banned; and GMO foods, broadly rejected by consumers, are practically unsalable. Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner, who’d thrown her weight around in 2009 to stop the cultivation of MON810 corn in Germany, explained it this way: “For agriculture in Europe, the promises of salvation made by the gene-technology industry have so far not been fulfilled.”

Monsanto’s surrender was only partial, however. In Spain, Portugal, and Romania, where laws and consumers were less squeamish about GMO crops, Monsanto would continue to hawk is MON810, Mitchener said. Nor was Monsanto finished lobbying in the EU: it would still try to get the EU to allow the import of GMO animal feed. But in terms of cultivation in Europe, Monsanto would focus on conventional seeds for corn, canola, and veggies.

Triumphs against multinational lobbying giants are rare. So, even mini triumphs count. And Monsanto’s admission that it would quit trying to force GMO crops down people’s throats in Europe, limited as this admission may be, is now celebrated as one of them.

Meanwhile, hunger is spreading from its strongholds in the global south to depression-hit Southern Europe. In Greece, reports are growing of children having to scrounge for food from classmates, while in Spain city dwellers have become inured to the spectacle of people rummaging in trash cans for a bite to eat. But there’s a reason. Read.... Starving the World for Power and Profit: The Global Agribusiness Model.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
BlackVoid's picture

Meanwhile - totally forgotten by even blogs - ALL SOY USED IN FOOD OR FOR ANIMAL FEED IS GMO. 

So everyone who can read this is eating GMO (unless you do not buy any industrial food and grow it yourself / buy from a reliable organic source who does not use soy feed).

ToNYC's picture

Monsanto Terminator genes are WMD, weapons of mass destruction.

NoTTD's picture

Where do you luddites think the food supply which has allowed civilization to rise came from?  Natural selection?

Mankind has been "modifying" the food supply through hybridization for centuries.  Without that, millions more would be starving today.  It's head this way, or die out.

Drop your ingrained Leftist prejudices and look around.  Wake up and smell the coffee, which, by the way, is one of the products which has benefited most from hybridization.   

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

CRITICAL fail on your part. #1 we never spliced in DNA from other organisms.
#2 we never ever used HARMFUL infectious viruses ON our food before DELIBERATELY. Now we are: that's how the genomes are spliced affordably
#3 we DID in fact MANUALLY hybridize just as nature did with NATURAL selection - we just do it faster, selectively by EYE and known target result.
#4 even without GMO Monsanto will in fact do this step #3 for you cheaply & repeatedly, so I'm told by farmers in Nebraska who are Monsanto customers

shovelhead's picture

Selective breeding for desired traits is as old as farming. That ain't GMO.

Splicing cockroach genes into your childrens DNA to make them climb better could be a slightly risky business.

Same for food.


skipjack's picture

No you wake up.  Stop reading Monsanto marketing literature and understasnd that Monsanto is splicing toxin genes into plants (Bt) for glysophate resistance, so they can sell more glyphosate to poisin the environment with.


Some of us don't like eating toxins, especially since Monsanto hides behind the bribed FDA and USDA to prevent independent testing from occurring.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

jesus fuck, it says Monsanto is one of the investors there, as in control of the seed bank. Fuck.

Vendetta's picture

Leadership in reject monsanto apparently only comes from outside the US because the US has no true leadership in place.

aldousd's picture

Monstanto is a chemical company. They work for contract sometimes. Like every chemical company, some of the stuff they make turns out to have been toxic. They have a profit motive, like every chemical and non-chemical company. Big fucking deal.  GMO's are probably actually a good thing... it's like selective breeding of any other thing out there, except accelerated. It's not like this is some kind of radioactive DNA they're using. It's just hand picking it, at the molecular level. People are idiots. Pitchforks and torches.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

REALLY, so what do you think of the viral vectors plucked from nature that destroy the immune system of plants and animals, allow cross-jumping of species of harmful microbial diseases, and are the only available method for inserting these gene splices? Gotta a smart thought on that one?

Umh's picture

It's sort of like the financial crash of 2008. No one saw it coming... Monsanto and GMO's are like that. No one sees it coming except the 10-20% of people that the media will not listen to.

Zero-risk bias's picture

How ever you want to describe what Monsanto actually do, doesn't further their complicacy in accelerating impending envoronment and social catastrophe.

It is the truth, it's just a chemical company, like every other for-profit business, it's purpose is to market and sell you low-quality products and to make money from doing it. These words adequately describe the energy, chemical, pharmacutical and large-scale food production industries.

"GMO's are probably actually a good thing."

There are these voices which would echo your sentiment, and there are voices that don't. What gives you faith in the unknown?  Safety is clearly inconclusive based on the relatively recent discovery of artificial genetic modification, which has been under the control of a self-regulatory system for a long time before man 'appeared' on the planet.

Pitchforks were orinally designed for menial outdoor tasks, but people eventually evolved to begin to use the technology to protect themselves and ensure their own survival and future generations, by taking themselves out of the human resource equation. I'd re-examine your premises about idiocy.


brettd's picture

People aren't hungry because of GMO's.

People are hungry because Congress forces us to turn our food into 

biodiesel and ethanol.

Umh's picture

Not original; I apoligize.  Ethanol is stupid! Ethanol causes people to go hungry! Ethanol reduces gas mileage!.....

Ethanol is stupid!

Ethanol is stupid!

Ethanol is stupid!

Ethanol is stupid!

Carl LaFong's picture

Labeling of animals fed GMO feed products should be next. If they eat it, we're eating it.

dizzyfingers's picture

Release the test data proving GMO products are safe for human consumption -- if there are data.

gmak's picture

My primary objection is that there is no control over genetic material in nature, but the courts are enforcing Monsanto and ADM 'ownership' when their products cross-breed in the wild - enforcing destruction of farmers' crops who were victims of nature.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

indeed. nature has no rights to exist but patent & copyright law protect Monsanto

dizzyfingers's picture

gmak: Monsanto (and perhaps others) are claiming ownership of everything they "develop", so I have no sympathy on the label issue.

holdbuysell's picture

The $64,000 question: What does the C-suite of Monsanto feed its children?

Walt D.'s picture

There is nothing new about genetically modified food, only the methodology used for its production.

Look at wild strawberries, tomato, and grapes. They are all very small and full of flavor.

The modern variants of these products, produced by so called natural methods, are large, but they are all tasteless.

What Monsanto does is to use gene splicing to do what used to be done by "natural" selection. (That being said, some companies spliced sequences of fly genetic materials into the tomato seed so that they would resist freezing. Since the genome project, we now know that there is no differences between "plant sequences " and "animal sequences" - we can find the same sequences in both - however, "flied tomato" does sound rather unapetizeing.)

However, my gripe with Monsanto and other geneticically modified seed producers is the following. Suppose I but a bunch of seeds and plant them in my garden. I can harvest my crop, save the new seeds and plant them next year to get a new crop? Not if they are GM - they have a self-destruct sequence built in, so that I have to go back to the nursery next year and buy more seeds.

My suggestion - buy natural seeds on the internet and grow them in your own garden or house. Once you have tasted the difference, you will not go back to the tasteless stuff you buy in the supermarket.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

FAIL. You fundamentally misunderstand what gene splicing is. This is bringing in genes that CAN NOT and DO NOT evolve in the species it will be put into. Like fish DNA for proteins that do not freeze going into TOMATO.

That's not even in the same REALM as a FISH.

It can't evolve, natural selection can't do this. It can't be sped up. This is breaking the system entirely.

How do you think the mechanics of this works? They have magical little wrenches, scissors and glue? Perhaps genome-elves? perhaps a special gene-splicer machine?


They have a harmful virus which evolved on its own to do HARM to invade and alter DNA and they just attached genome splices TO IT and hope to hell it won't kill us all.

The have not one clue that it's safe. NOT ONE.

cynicalskeptic's picture

Not just tasteless.  New studies are showing marked nutritional differences between 'natural' and GMO products.  The GMO produce has far less in the way of trace minerals and often is processed VERY differently by the human body.  You also have levels of toxins found in GMO crops absent in 'natural' ones.


The minimal 'testing' given to GMOP crops is rather horrifying considering that they are consumed - and consumed on a regular basis - by people.

putaipan's picture

deny them control of food, then money, then energy, and we have won.

putaipan's picture

i wanna up my self 10000 times.

Umh's picture

Keep on jackin' up!

Peter Pan's picture

All these problems stem from genetically modified money, i.e. fiat.

The ooner they establish a criminal court of jutice for financial and environmental crimes gainst humanity, the better.

robnume's picture


Joe A's picture

Don't rejoice too soon, this just might be a diversion. The beast called MonSatan will not give up until it is completely dead. The EU and the US are working on a free trade agreement and it wouldn't surprise me if they want to introduce GMO in Europe under the umbrella of "free trade" (as there is such a thing) burried somewhere deep inside in some rule of this trade agreement. Employees of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which advises the EC and EU on GMO are in the pockets of big food and biotech companies and the European Parliament is often in conflict with them. Also, don't be suprised if GM contamination will pop up in Europe, released intentionally. For this only one punishment really should be applied which is the death penalty. And for MonSatan: "Kill it, kill it with fire".

spanish inquisition's picture

I got a feeling they will still be dumping random seed about Europe, maybe cropdusting pollen.



rosiescenario's picture

I worked on the case against Monsanto's gmo alfalfa which went to the Supreme Court where one of the company's former counsel sits....the outcome was predetermined.


This discovery in Oregon of the GM wheat is the tip of the iceberg. According to one ag source I know in Oregon, I am told that the GM roundup ready trait is already in 42 different weed varieties. This will spread on a geometric trajectory.


The genie is not only out of the bottle, but spreading. Expect to see a significant impact on our ag exports.


I would hope that every farmer damaged by loss of sales or by price decreases as a result of what Monsanto has done, would simply sue them locally in small claims court...that might be one way to beat them. Do not expect anything from the Feds as Monsanto has about 30 affiliates in various positions of power from the Supreme Court to the White House.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

just wait till it starts species-jumping from plant to animal. THEN we're gonna have SERIOUS problems. Not just the genes but the viral vectors themselves which will let LOTS of other bacteria or fungi in.

WTFUD's picture

Any government signing off on that shit should first have every member of it consume it for a period of 2 years along with their families!
After complete medical independent checkups they could then sell the produce in the supermarkets labelled clearly. END OF.

Ghordius's picture

reminds me though that in some parts of the world you find dog food fit for children and chidren food fit for dogs

debtandtaxes's picture

Absolutely! ..in poor countries like Canada and the US!

world_debt_slave's picture

Control the food and water in a country and control that country.

ebworthen's picture

Digestion of food stuffs and subsequent metabolization in the human body is one of the most complex and poorly understood yet important components of health.

I'm convinced that eventually artificial sweeteners of all kinds will be shown to be the cause of diabetes.

Like the pharmaceutical industry, most of these companies have no idea what they are doing beyond increasing yield per acre to make as much $$$ as possible.

I"m not a wild-eyed greeny or 100% organic nut, but I do know that messing with mother nature is not a good idea.

The current food system, increasingly dependent upon oil and mechanization as well as artificially engineered monoculture seed crops is a house of cards.

GoinFawr's picture

"The current food system, increasingly dependent upon oil and mechanization as well as artificially engineered monoculture seed crops is a house of cards."

...by design.

If these products are so whiz bang golly gee great why aren't the companies that produce them fighting for labels indicating which foods contain them?

Seedy business.

Vidar's picture

The problem with Monsanto is not GMO organisms per-se, but the way they force farmers to buy seeds from them every year instead of saving seeds from the previous year's crop to re-plant the next year. This adds a whole new expense for food producers and, eventually, food consumers. If the statist patent system that makes this possible were done away with Monsanto would much less of a threat to world food supplies.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

That's a small-term problem. It's bad but what's worse is that our food which has NO contamination has no legal protection FROM contamination, so we all lose our right to that food.

OneTinSoldier66's picture

"The problem with Monsanto is not GMO organisms per-se, but the way they force farmers to buy seeds from them every year instead of saving seeds from the previous year's crop to re-plant the next year. This adds a whole new expense for food producers and, eventually, food consumers. If the statist patent system that makes this possible were done away with Monsanto would much less of a threat to world food supplies."


I think that's how the guy in your avatar(Murray N. Rothbard) would have put it. Well done imo.

DaveyJones's picture

the problem is both. we still have no idea what pandora's box we've opened. we should never patent food. their stated corporate goal is to own the food market

Everyman's picture

Monsanto’s previous flagship products included the once harmless DDT, now banned worldwide; a family of industrial chemicals called PCBs that are now considered highly toxic; Agent Orange,

DDT is NOT banned worldwide.  It is still used in many countries.  It IS banned in the US.  Agent Orange is from DOW Chemical, and PCB were produced by everybody, but mainly WESTINGHOUSE. 

The Author ran a little free with the facts.


I do not for the record want GMO's and I think again, Monsanto, is playing with fire and sh0uld get burned.


hardcleareye's picture

Agent Orange was produced not only by Dow but also by Monsanto the two companies were the major suppliers..

"A 50:50 mixture of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D; it was manufactured for the U.S. Department of Defense primarily by Monsanto Corporation and Dow Chemical."


Hate to use wiki as a cite but didn't want to spend a lot of time correcting your misconceptions......  the author had it right.  Wolf is pretty good about his research.......

hardcleareye's picture

Westinghouse used pcb's in their transformers but..... Monosanto made the PCB's.....

". In the United States, commercial production of PCBs was taken over in 1929 by Monsanto Company from Swann Chemical Company. Manufacturing levels increased in response to the electrical industry's need for a safer (than flammable mineral oil) cooling and insulating fluid for industrial transformers and capacitors. PCBs were also commonly used as stabilizing additives in the manufacture of flexible PVC coatings for electrical wiring and electronic components to enhance the heat and fire resistance of the PVC.[18]"

paint it red call it hell's picture

“It’s counterproductive to fight against windmills,”

That statement is self righteous and cynical at the same time. Considering the context it was made in, it is as arrogantly smug as anything I have ever read.