Syngenta AG has withdrawn applications to grow two genetically-modified varieties of corn in the EU in the latest sign that more than a decade of consumer and government opposition to engineered seeds is leading producers to write the region off as a viable market.
A “reevaluation” of the commercial potential in the European Union of a genetically-engineered corn product led to the decision, a spokeswoman for Basel, Switzerland-based Syngenta said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg confirming the application withdrawal. Producers need approval from regulators to sell GM seeds in the region.
The Swiss pesticide and seed maker still has applications pending for two other GM products for the EU, and doesn’t expect the withdrawal to have an impact on sales of its Agrisure corn brand in Europe.
Rival seed producer Monsanto Co notified the European Commission in July 2013 it would withdraw most of its applications to grow genetically-modified crops in the EU, saying at the time it saw no path to marketing and selling biotech crops for cultivation in the region.
Countries including France, the EU’s biggest agricultural producer, and Italy have banned the cultivation of Monsanto’s genetically-modified MON810 corn. Five countries in Europe grew genetically-modified corn in 2014, led by Spain, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech
Applications. Crops in these countries accounted for less than 0.2 percent of the world’s farmland planted with biotech crops.
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