German court orders Monsanto to make public controversial report

Effects of Bt corn in rat trials at heart of controversy
June 23, 2005

A German law court in Koln, Germany, hasy ordered biotechnology giant Monsanto to make one of it's confidential reports public. The 1000-page document is in the center of international attention after its results were exposed by the British newspaper, Independent On Sunday on April 22, 2005.

Greenpeace asked for access to the document in Germany under the EU freedom of information law, which states that the public has the right to all documents related to risk assessement of genetically modified (GM) plants. The German state authorities endorsed the access and Monsanto filed a court case against the government of Germany in an attempt to try to stymie the publishing of the document.

The rat feeding study found "significant" effects in the blood and organs of the rats fed on the GM maize MON863. Greenpeace says that a number of scientists across Europe who have already seen the study expressed concerns about the health and safety implications of this GM corn. Monsanto does not put in question that there were significant health effects in the rats, but claims that these were not caused by the GM maize.

On the 24th of June the Council of EU ministers will decide on the market authorisation for import and use of MON863 in food. Greenpeace says that it is almost impossible to evaluate Monsanto's over 1000-page study on the health effects until that date; in particular because Monsanto is expected to file a further appeal against the recent decision, which could result in further delay in the publication of the documents.