Germany Bars Genetically Modified Corn

The decision raises the specter of trade tensions with the United States, but the ban is highly symbolic since Germany grows so little of the crop.

Comments: 38

  1. NO! Especially as genetically modified foods are marinated in poisonous chemicals so they can grow! Genetically modified foods, antibiotics in all food sources and the aggressively greedy corporations (Monsanto) that would poison us through their monopolies are totally UNSAFE. They are all the same thing! What ever happened to choice? You want health care costs to go down? Get rid of all the FDA approved food additives, antibiotics and the companies (Monsanto and all pharmaceuticals) that manufacture the sources of our own demise.

  2. I personally do not feel threatened by eating genetically modified corn. The question here is not about the safety for consumption, but about the safety for environment.

    A problem of genetically modified plants is that even farmers who refuse to grow them can see their harvests contaminated by nearby fields; in some cases, they are even sued by Monsanto for infringing on its intellectual property.

    Considering Monsanto's track record on safety and methods, I believe any study or affirmation of the company should be examined with extreme circumspection.

  3. No. The bigger issue is the economic impact on farmers and consumers. Monsanto's policies and pricing structure require farmers to purchase new modified seeds for every planting. In traditional crops farmers can save surplus seeds to plant the next year without additional fees. Genetically modified corn crops have also been proven to contaminate non-modified plants outside of what was considered to be safe zones. In these cases Monsanto sued farmers whose crops were contaminated, contending that these farmers owed Monsanto fees for planting genetically modified corn. Monsanto also sued dairies that included milk carton labels indicating that the milk products were from cows not treated with bst.

    Eating modified foods is not safe because the ultimate goal of genetically modified foods appears to be total control of our food supply through licensing and fees, which would be devastating for consumers and farmers.

  4. Ethics questions aside, Yes -- I'm completely happy to eat them. GM foods are modified to express proteins at different levels or to add proteins found elsewhere in nature (in other plants / animals). We have been exposed to those same or similar proteins in their original organism. Our bodies denature proteins via acid or digestive enzymes. There's nothing magical or scary about it. To engineer a plant or animal so that harvest is more efficient or better leveraged by the source company is another question.

  5. Yes, given that I see significant peer-reviewed evidence supporting the safety of that GE food. GE food is no more intrinsically dangerous than "natural" crops (which have themselves been extensively genetically modified in the past 10,000 years), and fears about it are almost universally the result of misinformation and public hysteria. We can only hope that the future of this vital technology is decided by rational scientific reasoning and not mass panic.

  6. I think GV said it all. However I'll throw my 2 cents in. On the whole, no I do not feel comfortable. Perhaps if I knew exactly how each food was being modified, I could make my decision on a per case basis, but with the broad scope of GM food and what that means makes me wary. When you come down to it, Tangelos into themselves, are genetically modified (spliced hybrid), so is Triticale. However the thought of some for profit company taking control of how food will affect my body is a scary thought indeed. So scary I've taken to growing some of my own fruits and vegetables, from Organic non-GM seed. I know others that have done so also and for the same reasons.

  7. NO, absolutely not at all. Period. It is already very regrettable that these organism have been released into the environment and continue to cross-pollute naturally occuring corn plants. UC Davis studies have shown that no matter what kinds of animals are kept on a strictly GMO corn diet, the animals cannot survive beyond 12 months. How great an idea to give this to our population to eat and to have some form of corn product in EVERY single kind of processed food available on the market.
    Shame on Monsanto, shame on the FDA and shame on the USDA. It is unbelievable that some kind of principle of caution has not been applied here and that these foods have not been kept from spreading in nature until proven safe and sound.
    Soon it will be too late to take these things off the marked - the damage has already been done to the natural environment.

  8. No. The days when a truly evil company such as Monsanto can say "Trust us!" have long gone. How a company with such despicable business practices can survive is a testament to the market's unflinching greed for profit above all. What happened to anti-trust laws? What happened to business ethics? Unfortunately I can guess what happened. Monsanto bought them.

  9. Actually I find the third hand quite useful.
    Just kidding. Really.

  10. NO! GM crops are genetically modified to tolerate poison, nothing else! Current research shows that plant-healthy critters (worms, butterflies, bees) prefer non-GM plants. Eventually the critters will find a way to attach the GM crops, and then we'll have to create the genetically modified anti-GM crops and seeds. Ultimately we'll have the same problems we now have with over-use of antibiotics.
    I remember when I thought genetically modified plants were modified to make them better (stronger stems, needed less water, etc.). I was surprised and dismayed to find that these plants were simply "Round-up Ready", meaning that they were not killed by insecticides. (And meaning that Monsanto, the owner of Round-up Weed Killer, had just created a great $$ opportunity for doing good by doing bad.)

  11. Yes. There is nothing inherently scary about genetically modified food. They are same amino acids you find in everything else you eat, just shuffled around a bit. Properly used, GM foods could create a food revolution that will help feed an increasingly hungry world
    The unfortunate thing is Monsanto and ADM, who have created GM corn seeds that only grow with their name-brand fertilizers and things like that.
    GM foods that are created solely for the public good are great, but as long as hunger is looked at a way to make a buck as opposed to a basic human right (ie, freedom from it), there will always be a problem.

  12. Absolutely not.

  13. Genetically modified organisms MIGHT BE safe for human consumption and distribution in the environment ... or they might not be. No one knows for sure, and anyone who asserts they do know has an agenda or is being economical with the truth.

    Why? Because these GMOs simply haven't been in existence long enough for anyone to know for sure. Scientists have been developing GMOs for less than one human lifetime, and there is simply no way for humans to know in advance the full implications or unintended consequences of any genetic modifications.

    Furthermore, there are troubling gaps in the scientific record. For example, scientists have only recently mapped the human genome, along with a few other species. More disturbingly, scientists are only just beginning the decades-long process of mapping the human proteome (i.e. all the proteins in the human body). And once such a catalog of proteins is complete, scientists would still have very little understanding of what all these proteins do or how they interact.

    So GMOs are a recent agricultural, biological, and environmental experiment, in which ordinary people and animals and crops are the guinea pigs, and companies like Monsanto accrue the benefits.

    Now compare the decades-long human experiment with GMOs with the thousands of years that mother nature has been experimenting via natural selection and other biological processes.

    And further consider that for all of human history people have been eating non-GMO foods and managing quite well, thank you very much

    Given these points, it is apparent that nature is the best laboratory possible, and I see no reason for me or my family to take part in Monsanto's experiment. A choice between trusting mother nature or trusting Monsanto and the government is simply no choice at all.

    Conclusion: My family and I will stick with organic foods and natural farming techniques, wherever feasible. Milk should come from cows that graze on grass and chew their cud, as they evolved in nature.

  14. Oh boy here we go again. SS of LA, peer reviewed does not intrinsically make something safe. Those reviews change constantly as information is brought to light (or hidden). This car salesman "trust me" line has brought many people, communities and governments into precarious situations throughout the ages. Thank you but no thank you. I'll make my own rational decisions while weighing whether some peer reviews can even be trusted. In a world without integrity, why should I automatically put my trust and health into the hands of unknown and possibly paid off scientists? Monsanto is a former rug fiber company, I simply do not want them putting any food on my table, at least not without my personal scrutiny of what is going into it and how it was genetically changed.

  15. No. For all the good reasons already mentioned but especially because of the intent to have control over all seeds.

  16. GV's point that company's "policies and pricing structure require farmers to purchase new modified seeds for every planting" misses the point. Farmers have happily followed exactly this process for the last 60 years with (non-GM) hybrid seeds. Why would they conform to such a pricing structure? Because the benefits of the improved genetics in terms of disease resistance, yield, output traits, etc. far out-weigh the added cost to the farmer. If they don't believe that they're benefiting from the cost of the seed, they can use "free" seed that they've saved. In fact, farmers have voted (with their wallets) overwhelming in favor of commercially-produced seeds and companies have reciprocated with investments of billions in research, and everyone, including the consumer, has benefited.

    With respect to the safety of GMOs, I believe that the few genes currently in commercial use are some of the most highly-studied and well-characterized genes known. For example, the rennin used in making cheese is a GM product that no one seems to complain about - the alternative to the GM product is the traditional extract from cow stomachs. Contrast this level of understanding with the ~30,000 found in any non-GM plant in your refrigerator: in those plants, fewer than a few hundred genes are likely to have been characterized at even a superficial level. Most "naturally occurring" genes and their products in our foods have never been identified or studied.

    The most exciting GM plants are those that offer tremendous environmental benefits. The fact is that our farm economy (and the large chunk of the world's economy that this includes) depends on massive chemical inputs such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. While I'm a firm believer in organic farming (and have worked on one myself), I'm also a realist: the size of the human population makes it impossible to convert our current farming systems to organic farming in the foreseeable future. However, GM plants that have genetic-based disease resistance (dramatically reducing the need for pesticides), or corn that has the nitrogen-fixing properties of legumes transferred via transgenes, or that increase nitrogen utilization thereby decreasing run-off into our streams and rivers - these are exciting prospects with clear environmental benefits. In fact, GM seeds can facilitate and substantially enhance organic cultivation methods. Another example of benefits of GM plants is from Hawaii, where a virus threatened to end the cultivation of papaya. A simple GM modification rendered the papaya resistant, saving papaya farmers there. A further example is the elimination of allergenic proteins in plants such as peanuts, which has the potential to save lives if children with food allergies were to accidently come in contact with the product.

    The curious thing is that if a scientist transfers a gene via traditional breeding methods, it is a crude an imprecise transfer that can take along hundreds or thousands of unknown and uncharacterized genes. Yet this is considered safer and more "natural" than using a transgenic approach that transfers just the one gene of interest. If ionizing radiation is used to induce mutations, this is considered "natural" and the resulting plants are not transgenic - yet those plants likely carry thousands of uncharacterized changes to the DNA, versus a single change of a transgenic plant. The issues are not black-and-white, not as simple as the idea that GMOs are bad and non-transgenic plants are always better.

    Companies, Monsanto in particular, have done a poor job, historically, in handling GM issues of plants, but their job has been complicated because their discussion of the issues of safety and the nature of GM alterations have largely been countered with emotional and subjective responses rather than objective and scientifically sound (and supported) responses. How can one have a reasonable discussion when the two sides are arguing on entirely different levels and are each making points that make sense, in the context of the level on which they are arguing? My own opinion is that GMOs are no less safe than any other product on the market (probably more safe as they're in general much better studied than the non-GMO versions of the same product), but people should be given the option to chose to not purchase them via labeling, since there are so many emotions surrounding the issue.

  17. No........After what's happen on Wall Street and Banks hiding their losses,why should the public trust any business to tell the truth.

  18. I do not understand the corporate motive for developing GMO food - I think that it is telling that they lobby hard to prevent consumers from being able to identify what foods contain GMO foods.

    I do not want GMO foods in my diet.

  19. IMHO as an Iowa born American, WWII/Cold War veteran, both military/civilian in the foreign affairs community I couldn't agree more about the use of chemicals, etc in today's agricultural production bringing harm and medical problems to all. We are, through such techniques, overuse of chemicals, etc destroying ourselves and others. USDA, FDA and our own policy makers are and have been wrongly influenced by the likes of big corporate chemical companies. The Germans and Europeans are right, in this case, in banning such agricultural procedures and products. It is a sad, sad situation.

  20. Absolutely not, I do not want genetically modified food PERIOD.

  21. As safe as I feel eating any other kind of food. In terms of risk from unexpected consequences of breeding techniques, non-GM techniques pose comparable risks. It's just that when a potato or celery developed through conventional breeding techniques turns out to be unexpectedly poisonous and sickens people and has to be taken off the market, it's not news and no one cares. And yes, it does happen and has happened. You can look up the NAS report I mention next for specific examples.

    In the 2003 NAS report "Safety of Genetically Modified Foods", the National Academy of Sciences ranked various breeding techniques with respect to their estimated likelihood of giving rise to unintended consequences i.e. their expected riskiness. The highest ranking (i.e. expected to be riskiest) was not a GM technique, but a conventional breeding technique: induced mutagenesis. All the objections people raise about GM foods apply to it, even moreso, but no one is concerned about it. There are no calls for studies of its safety (even though it has only within the last couple of decades been applied in a widespread manner to food people eat, and its safety, short-term and long-term, hasn't been studied), no calls for products developed with the technique to be labelled (impossible anyway, because tracking hasn't been done and in general no one knows what organisms have been developed with induced mutagenesis).

    Anyhow, that demonstrates how seriously you should take people's claims about feeling unsafe eating GM foods. It's not because of any legitimate concerns about not enough study of safety being done, or else they'd be up in arms about mutation breeding too. It's because of non-rational concerns that a genetically modified organism is somehow "tainted" or "changed" and just ain't right.

  22. I feel perfectly safe eating GM foods as man has been genetically modifying foods for centuries. I have no problem if Germans don't want to buy GM foods. Labeling laws are more than adequate to allow them to avoid them. Banning them contributes to world hunger.
    Agriculture is not significant in Germany and German politician demagogue GM foods because it has no cost. There is no science to back up their fears and it is a subtle form of America bashing.
    I think we should give all EU members a choice; drop your rejection of GM foods or forget about us doing anything on climate change. There are plenty of credible scientist that have doubt that we need to do anything. Two can play the doubt game.

  23. Do I feel safe? Compared to what? Two points:

    1) The assumption that "natural" foods are inherently safe is erroneous. Non-GMO foods currently cause many more deaths per comsumed unit than GMO foods, mostly through allergic reactions and sanitation issues. GMO foods are the most highly tested and regulated on the planet and have a vastly safer track record than non-GMO foods. I am only too happy to eat them.

    2) Westerners tend to look at this issue with typical arrogance and self-absorption, as if theirs is the only extant situation. We are wealthy and developed and can easily afford costly, inefficient food sources. The "organic" methods we worship are virtually the same methods that have been insufficient in the developing world and have killed hundreds of millions through famine. GMO crops have ended famine everywhere they have been adopted. If the world succumbs to uninformed elitist arrogance and takes away biotech, millions will starve.

  24. It may be ok for a while. Read about the collapse of Indian agriculture happening now. When we rely on a petrochemical based food supply with plants modified to optimize artificial inputs, the economics will eventually collapse. The only winners are the agribusiness conglomerates who hold the patents and supply the ingredients.

  25. I do not feel safe eating GMO's of any sort. Taking the word of some mega agribusiness corporation - saying these products are safe - is something I am not comfortable with. The claim of being safe for consumers is based off of very little testing, which I believe is astonishing seeing how this is a major food source. I also feel it distressing that GMO's ingredients in food products do not have to be labeled as such. This is why I purchase organic foods whenever possible. This is my way to dictate to food companies what foods I wish to consume and am quite willing to pay more for it. Cheap highly-processed, low-quality food does not interest me. I like to know where my food is coming from, how it is processed and what it contains. Please let me decide what I would like to eat and not Archer-Daniels Midland, ok?

  26. About as safe as I feel eating anything since Reagan.

    Everything we eat has been modified to some extent. How does GM differ from Gregor Mendel's fiddling with pea plants? Speed?

    What really makes me nervous is the lack of safeguards during preparation. Not being able to see what I'm eating is the only plus to my aging eyes.

  27. Asking whether people feel safe eating GM food is like asking whether people would feel safe eating food with some white crystals shaken on the top. The answer depends entirely on what the crystals are, not the fact that they were added.

    A plant makes proteins from the genes we add, just as it makes proteins from the genes that evolution added. Humans adding or taking away genes is not an inherently good or bad thing. The resultant change in genetic information is biologically indistinguishable from changes made by evolution. Truly, a DNA molecule produced by evolution is chemically identical to one produced by humans. And if two things are chemically identical, they are identical in every sense.

    Those in categorical opposition to GM food are sending back their cheeseburger because someone shook salt on it. Indeed, categorical opposition or support of a food with human-added genes betrays a serious lack of understanding.

    The question really is not whether we support GM foods--it's whether we think each specific case of a GM food is okay or not. And in every case so far, the "white crystals" added to foods have truly been as harmless as table salt.

    Some GM foods have genes that give resistance to an herbicide, as is the case with Roundup Ready organisms. Some have genes that specifically kill butterfly and moth larvae, as is the case with Bt plants. And some have genes that produce vitamin A, as is the case with golden rice. Though we're always learning more about individual proteins, the human-added proteins that these GM foods produce are well-studied and well-understood. They each have one function and they pose no risk to humans.

    The dangers of GM food are socio-economic, as others have pointed out in the case of Monsanto, and environmental, as is the case with Bt corn pollen killing moth species that are not corn pests. As with any new technology, we need to think with nuance and with facts if we are to properly assess its costs and benefits.

    It should go without saying that the best way to evaluate GM food is to think analytically and scientifically, not emotionally or irrationally. If any readers have a "fear" of GM foods, consider how you might view someone who had a fear of restaurant-prepared food on the grounds that the food was modified from the way it came out of the ground. You might tell this person that restaurants are not inherently safe or unsafe--the real issue is whether the restaurant's kitchen is clean and free of harmful contaminants, and whether the food is thoroughly cooked. It's not that restaurants are good or bad, it's whether an individual burger joint is safe. You might think your restaurantophobic friend should slow down and learn about the facts. This is how scientists feel toward people who are afraid of GM food.

    Just take it easy, pick up a molecular biology textbook (Alberts's Molecular Biology of the Cell is a good one), learn about what genetic modification actually is, and begin to judge GM foods on a case-by-case basis.

  28. No I don't but in reality I wouldn't know the difference anyway unless it was clearly identified. I didn't realize I was eating farm raised salmon with dye added to enhance the color until they clearly started labeling it a couple of years ago. The same goes for milk. There are a whole lot of strange ailments in this country that medical professionals and scientists have no idea what causes them. Further examining all the chemicles and pesticides that are added to our foods would probably get to the root of a lot these msyterious diseases that seem to afflict the US and few if any other countries of the world. Monsanto(just like most corporations) only cares about it's stock price. Damn the longterm impact on public health.

  29. When comments are made about "Chemical Marination" of foods be precise about what is in the marination that is evil.

    Emotion is childish. Facts count.

  30. GM foods is tantamount to reinventing the wheel, only this time to make Monsanto rich by literally enslaving farmers. Every year, now, they will have to return to Big Brother Monsanto to get their seeds ... sounds suspiciously familiar.... like the oil companies who make sure that Their Royal Highness is located between the source and the consumer. This does not even make economic sense, since the money earned vs. work given is disproportionate. Mark my words, if we, as a society, do not spread wealth through businesses, we will have to spread it through governments. And one more point here: Diversity is sustainable.

    The second aspect is scientific.... In contrast to those who pooh-pooh the anti-GM crowd as "emotional and subjective," there is not enough real proof out there that fiddling with the genetic structure will not have some lasting effect on nature. Flounder genes have no place in a tomato, and there is a reason why things have to degrade and rot. And there is a reason why nature puts reproductivity of the species at the top of the priority list, so why get rid of it...
    Scientists are not gods, they are seldom geniuses, nowadays they are mostly, I hate to say this, what Germans call "Fachidioten", who are in love with their subject and don't care much about what is happening next door.

    Finally, to the "emotional and subjective" argument... That is what they say about peace demonstrators... Subjectivity and emotion are not to be ignored, they are very real elements in the ascertainment of our daily lives. Suppressing them is like trying to suppress water, it just drives the energy elsewhere. If we would be überrational, we could eat pills and survive. But is that a fun life? Have you read Brave New World?

  31. So at least I can still buy corn from Germany. No, I don't want Monsanto-controlled corn. Yet another reason to avoid high-fructose corn syrup.

  32. For me the issue is not whether the food is safe but whether it is a good idea to BUY the food. I do NOT want the future of my food supply to be owned by Monsanto (or the like). So, even if the genetically modified food is safe, I feel that the supply of such food is very very unsafe, so I will support UNmodified food whenever I can.

  33. The problem for me (and a lot of other UK residents) is that in the initial outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or Mad Cow Disease), we were informed by highly reputable scientists that the disease couldn't possibly be transmitted through the food chain to humans.

    And we now know that they were wrong. Not through negligence, or having been bought out by big business interests, but because the process by which BSE is transmitted simply wasn't understood back then. You could point to a load of other examples where something was confidently declared 'safe' based on current knowledge. Only it wasn't.

    So, I would say that GM foods require very long-term testing before we can introduce them into our food chain; and while the developers are commercial interests they just aren't going to get that. Because their eyes are fixed on quarterly returns, not what they can make twenty, thirty years down the line.

    My two cents.

  34. Monsanto cannot be trusted at all. Besides their abysmal history, they will admit it is not their business to tell you what is healthy for you and me but to create a short term bottom line profit for non-human stockholders. It is our business to determine what is healthy for us and that means restrictions for Monsanto.

  35. GV, from Seattle, WA, you are right on spot here. To add to your argument, consider this;
    The GM seeds were, and perhaps are to this date, being forced on the farmers in the developing countries, directly or through their corrupt/puppet regimes.
    Since new seeds are required for every new harvest, one can only imagine the grand scale of blackmail for food that can be perpetrated on these nations by the likes of Monsanto or foreign governments.
    I see this as a sneak attack on the freedoms and sovereignties of vulnerable nations.

  36. No, thank you. GM plants are supposed to help ending famine in underdeveloped countries, yet they may start an economic war between US and Europe ?! I've lived in Germany for many years, and loved the food there, while experiencing tasteless, fast-cooked-and-eaten so called nourishment in the US, the country with the highest rate of obesity on the planet. Enough is enough: just leave us alone with these experiences. Nobody really knows what the long term effects this GM will have on humans. Please do not excuse everything by basically saying "it's healthy because it makes profit".

  37. It's intriguing that Somali pirates would choose a tanker full of American corn-soya blend to make a stand. Is it possible that Somalia has a GMO policy similar to Germany's, and is simply lacking in enforcement capabilities of the regular sort?

  38. No. (But it's probably too late already).

    Like another commentator, I too am disturbed that GM foods are not labeled, so as to give the consumer a choice.

    Also, contamination of GM plants to non-GM plants in nature has serious side-effects to consider. Has this possibly been the reason for hive collapse in the bee population ? I am not sure that we know.

    There is also the considerable rise in allergies among children these days. Back in my day, 1 child, or 2 at the most, of a class of 30 had allergies. Now, almost half of them do. And NO ONE that I knew, as a kid, was allergic to peanuts or peanut butter ! In the words of the street, "What's up with that ?".

    In addition to health and environmental concerns, I also agree with Eleanor Snyder of Hawaii : "No. For all the good reasons already mentioned but especially because of the intent to have control over all seeds."

    That is a frigtening thought. I am leery about putting my faith in the giant agro-business.

    NO to GM foods, ... let's err on the side of caution.