Biotech giant loses court battle against Germany

Giant of genetic engineering Monsanto has failed to protect the confidentially of a controversial study despite hauling the German government through the courts.

On Friday, June 10 a German law court ordered the biotech company to disclose details of an internal report that showed abnormalities in rats fed on a strain of modified maize.

Monsanto has resisted every attempt to make the report public, arguing the abnormalities in the rats were purely coincidental and that the study contains confidential information which would benefit its competitors.

The report found rats which had eaten the corn, code-named MON863, were found to have malformed kidneys and unusually high levels of white blood cells.

The findings, exposed in the Independent on Sunday in May, have led to concerns for human health, were the as-yet-unregistered maize to enter the human food chain.

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has already demanded a copy of all the data gathered by Monsanto from its research into the controversial corn while environmental pressure group Greenpeace had also called for it to be released into the public domain.

Greenpeace had appealed for access to the study through the German courts arguing that under EU law anyone has the right to view all documents related to risk assessment of genetically modified plants.

After the German state authorities endorsed the access, Monsanto filed a court case against the government in a final attempt to stymie the publishing of the document.

But the ruling in case last Friday means the original study should be published.

“This is a important success, both for Greenpeace and for the people,” said Greenpeace International campaigner Cristoph Then.
“The strategy of secrecy and in-transparency of Monsanto failed, and now the document can be a subject to independent investigations.”

MON863 is currently awaiting a licence, which must be granted by agriculture ministers, before it can be marketed in the EU.

Its application is due to be considered on June 24.

By Sam Bond

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