• German opposition to GMO `comes from all sides,' ministry says
  • Gene-modified seeds are already mostly banned in the EU

Germany is taking steps to outlaw the cultivation of genetically modified crops in Europe’s biggest economy.

The Agriculture Ministry plans to officially request that producers of GMOs exclude Germany when applying to sell seeds in European Union, Christian Fronczak, a spokesman for the ministry, said Tuesday. Scotland took similar measures earlier this month.

“The German government is clear in that it seeks a nationwide cultivation ban,” Fronczak said by phone from Berlin. “There’s resistance from all sides, from the public to the farmers.”

Germany is taking advantage of new measures allowing countries to opt out of growing gene-modified crops. Switzerland’s Syngenta AG and U.S. rival Monsanto Co. have been among the strongest proponents of the seeds, which are mostly banned in the EU because of what some say are uncertain environmental and health effects. Monsanto maintains the products are safe.

The Agriculture Ministry has asked for the backing of state ministries in a letter sent in the past few days, Fronczak said. Germany gave state governments a deadline until Sept. 11 to reply. If it doesn’t hear any objections from the states, it will ask that companies exclude Germany from their applications to sell GMO seeds, Fronczak said.

There is one genetically modified crop, a variety of corn designed to be pest-resistant, already grown in the EU and eight pending applications for GMO seeds, according to an April statement from the European Commission.

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