Maybe it’s the company’s seemingly imperialistic approach to taking over global agriculture, replacing home-grown farming with patented monocultures, or maybe it’s the strong-armed legal tactics, suing farmers who save their seeds. Or maybe it’s just a distaste for Big Anything. But people really don’t seem to like Monsanto. For years the biotechnology giant has sought approval to grow its modified crops in Europe and found only limited acceptance. And now Monsanto is giving up.
“Monsanto,” says Nature, “will no longer be seeking approvals for genetically modified (GM) crops now under review for cultivation in the European Union (EU).”
The distrust and disgust that many Europeans harbor for genetically modified foods has been one of the most prominent science communication controversies of the modern era—sandwiched somewhere between cloning and nanotechnology. That distrust exists in America, too, even though the science of genetically modified foods shows them to be just like any other food.
But a debate like the one over genetically modified crops has to do with a whole lot more than just science. And Monsanto was not the best candidate to lead a campaign for the public’s heart. Nature says that “Monsanto will now focus its European efforts on its conventional agriculture business and on enabling the import of GM crops for use as animal feed, a widespread EU practice that is less controversial than cultivating the crops in European fields.”
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