French, German farmers destroy crops after GMOs found in Bayer seeds
Bayer said on Wednesday that farmers in France and Germany were digging up thousands of hectares of rapeseed fields after traces of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) banned for cultivation were found in seeds sold by the company.
GMO crops are widely grown across the world, but they remain controversial in Europe, where very few varieties are authorised for growing and some countries like France have completely outlawed their cultivation, citing environmental risks.
Checks by the French authorities during the autumn showed minute quantities of GMO seeds, estimated at less than 0.005 percent of the volume, in three batches of rapeseed seeds sold under the Dekalb brand, Catherine Lamboley, Bayer's chief operating officer for France, said.
Dekalb was previously a Monsanto brand before the U.S. company was taken over by Bayer last year.
The GMO found, which is a rapeseed variety grown in Canada, is not authorised for cultivation in Europe, although it is allowed in imports destined for food and animal feed, Lamboley said.
Bayer issued a product recall but some of the seed had already been sown, representing about 8,000 hectares in France and 2,500-3,000 hectares in Germany, which are in the process of being dug up, Bayer said.
It was not yet known what caused the contamination of the rapeseed seeds, produced in Argentina in a GMO-free area, Lamboley said.
"We decided to immediately stop all rapeseed seed production in Argentina," she told Reuters in a phone interview.