November 17, 2009
Monsanto has abandoned its ambitious plans for two types of a so-called "second generation GM crop" rather than accede to a request from European regulators for additional research and safety data.
Monsanto has informed the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that it no longer wishes to pursue its application for approval of GM maize LY038 and the stacked variety LY038 x MON810. Both of these varieties were designed to accelerate the growth rate of animals. Two letters were sent to EFSA from the Monsanto subsidiary company Renessen at the end of April this year confirming the withdrawal of its applications originally submitted in 2005 and 2006. The letters cite "decreased commercial value worldwide" and state that the high-lysene varieties "will no longer be a part of the Renessen business strategy in the near future." There has been no announcement of these decisions on the Monsanto web site, and there are no mentions on EFSA or European Commission web sites either.
In other words, there is a conspiracy of silence involving both the applicants and the regulators.
The two letters sent to EFSA in April requested the return of all dossier material (varietal characterization, experimental protocols, and test results) which was submitted with the applications for cultivation, animal feed and human food. EFSA acceded to this request, making it impossible for any future independent researchers to analyse the Monsanto / Renessen data.
Scientists who have followed these two applications are quite convinced that the "decisions to withdraw" have nothing to do with commercial considerations and everything to do with food safety. In other words, the varieties are too dangerous to be allowed onto the open market. Objections came from scientists at the Canterbury University's Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety (INBI), New Zealand, who warned that the new corn was not safe for humans when cooked. They also expressed concerns about unpredictable health effects, increased levels of toxins in high- lysene corn, and possible allergies and links to cancer.
INBI's concerns were supported by some European countries, which prompted the EFSA to ask for new trials and adherence to the rules of the Codex Alimentarius, thus forcing Monsanto to withdraw its request under the pretext of a "decreased commercial value".