Germany: National GM crops situation, the MON810 ban

Germany: National bans of GM crops

Germany prohibits the cultivation of MON 810 under a Ministry announcement. No detailed reasons and offical documents of the ban were sent to the EU and EFSA. Germany never fulfilled the legal conditions to impose the ban, but the ban remains in place unchallenged.

German ban of genetically modified maize line MON810

Use: Cultivation
Legal ground for ban quoted: National ruling

  • Ban: The cultivation of MON810 was prohibited by a Ministry announcement. There was no formal submission to the EU of the measure adopted at national level.
  • EFSA: No scientific opinion of EFSA was released since Germany has never submitted any scientific documentation to the European Union

Reactions European Commission, European Court of Justice, national courts

  • Failure to fulfill legal requirements: The ban has been in place since 2009 although Germany has never started the formal procedure foreseen by the article 23 of Directive 2001/18/EC to which the German Ministry announcement made reference. Germany has also not provided detailed grounds for considering that genetically modified maize MON 810 constitutes a risk to human health or environment.
  • No action of the EC: The European Commission did not take any action against the German ban.

General situation of GM crops in Germany

Pilot survey conducted by InnoPlanta  (Germany, www.innoplanta.de)

General information

Germany remains a leading agricultural producer in the EU, even though the number of farms and farm workers has gradually declined over the years. With 59 per cent of the total crop growing area, grain cultivation takes up most of the arable land.

Key crops

Wheat (3.3 million ha); maize (2.3 million ha); barley (1.6 million ha); oilseed rape (1.45 million ha); rye (630 000 ha); sugarbeet (360 000 ha); potato (255 000 ha). Key constraints include insect pests, fungal diseases and viruses.

R&D efforts

The number of field trials significantly decreased in recent years due to regulatory uncertainty and field trial destructions. Moreover, academic research into the development of peas with fungal- and insect-resistance was relocated from Germany to the USA in 2009, as an example of “brain drain” encouraged by government policies and field destructions. Still, in terms of ongoing R&D, there are promising results from research looking into increased protein content in wheat; barley with fungal resistance; and, poplar with increased productivity.

Regulatory situation

Although approved for cultivation under EU Directives, the German government formally suspended the authorization of GM insect-resistant maize in 2009, following a similar ban in France.

Experiences of farmers

During the period 2006-08, GM maize was produced on a limited scale, reaching around 3 000 ha in 2008. Farmers reported positive results, most notably in terms of increased yields and reduced pesticide costs. However, farmers and scientists alike have been affected by the destruction of crop fields and experimental field trials by activists. These acts are facilitated by a detailed GM field register, which can be accessed via the Internet.