The Fear Of Biotech In Europe

October (and fall) have arrived: A time when thoughts turn to multi-colored leaves, crop harvests and scary stories tied to Halloween. Of course, if you really want to see fear at work in person, just schedule a visit to the Old World.

Now I don’t get over to Europe all that often (about once every three to five years), but I’ve heard about how fearful Europeans are of biotechnology. However, I didn’t really appreciate the extent of this fear until I witnessed it first-hand at a BASF Press Event, held near the company’s headquarters in central Germany. During this event, one BASF representative was talking about the company’s Limus technology, designed to increase the amount of nitrogen-based fertilizers available for crops in the soil. Expected to hit the market in the next decade or so, Limus will rely on introduced soil organisms to accomplish this task.

Of course, the use of the word “organisms” led to the following question from one European journalist: “Are these organisms genetically modified?” The answer back was a definitive “no,” with the BASF spokesperson pointing out the Limus organisms are akin to beneficial nematodes, but the European journalist who asked the question still looked nervous afterward.

Later during the event, I talked with Markus Heldt, president of BASF’s Crop Protection division, about this incident and the general attitude Europeans have toward biotechnology. “It’s sad, but very real over here,” said Heldt. “And most of this fear is based upon a perception of danger and not any real scientific data.”

When I asked how European growers felt about this fear, Heldt was philosophical. “They are being put at a disadvantage in their production ability compared with their U.S. and South American counterparts who have access to biotech crops, but they recognize that the way things are with European consumers, there’s nothing they can do about it.”

So as the world’s population heads toward nine billion in the next few decades, Europeans will continue to avoid using some of the cropping techniques that can help feed these numbers because of perceived fears. That’s the scariest, and saddest, story I’ve heard in many an October.

Leave a Reply

Eric Sfiligoj Stories

Eric SfiligojThe Top 10 Crop Protection Companies, Post-Mega Mergers
August 14, 2017
Everyone loves a good Top 10 list. In fact, some prominent celebrities such as David Letterman spent much of their Read More
CPS-Norwood-and-Dupont-reps
Eric SfiligojA Message to Ag Retailers: Do Tell Your Good Stories
July 26, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance ag Read More
Eric SfiligojThe 2017 Ambassadors of Respect Come from Around the Globe
July 24, 2017
After a week of fun, enjoying food, sights, and company information, DuPont Crop Protection representatives and their Environmental Respect guests Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
Trending Articles
Iowa waterways
Stewardship2,600 Iowa Farmers Commit $8.7 Million to Water Quality Practices
August 9, 2017
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced Tuesday that a record number of Iowa farmers signed up to install nutrient Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100Cause of Gar Tootelian Fire Under Investigation
August 7, 2017
Over one hundred firefighters and equipment responded to a four-alarm shop fire at the Gar Tootelian, Inc. (GAR) facility in Read More
Rob Versprille
ManagementCeres Solutions, North Central Co-op Merger to Bring New Opportunities for Indiana, Michigan Farmers
August 1, 2017
More than 40,000 customers and almost 9,000 Indiana and Michigan farmers will begin doing business with the new Ceres Solutions Read More
CPS-Norwood-and-Dupont-reps
Eric SfiligojA Message to Ag Retailers: Do Tell Your Good Stories
July 26, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance ag Read More
Tim Hassinger Dow AgroSciences President and CEO
Crop InputsDow’s Tim Hassinger Named President, CEO of Lindsay Corp.
July 24, 2017
Lindsay Corp. has  announced the appointment of Timothy Hassinger as president and CEO and a member of its board of Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
Latest News
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100Gar Tootelian Foundation Donates Half Million Dollars t…
August 16, 2017
Students at Immanuel Elementary are looking forward to the first day of school for two reasons this year. One, they Read More
Water Drainage
StewardshipNew System Could Remove Two Water Pollutants from Ag Fi…
August 14, 2017
Algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico use up the majority of the oxygen in the water, leading to massive Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Top 10 Crop Protection Companies, Post-Mega Mergers
August 14, 2017
Everyone loves a good Top 10 list. In fact, some prominent celebrities such as David Letterman spent much of their Read More
ManagementThe DuPont-Granular Deal, Dicamba Update, and Upcoming …
August 11, 2017
Matthew Grassi joins Paul Schrimpf for the second week in a row to talk about DuPont’s acquisition of Granular, as Read More
Soybeans weeds
HerbicidesOngoing Evaluation Key to Controlling Weeds, Improving …
August 10, 2017
As the sun bears down on record U.S. soybean acres this August, farmers keep their eyes on their fields to Read More
Young Corn Plants
Seed/BiotechMycogen Seeds Offers Novel Product to Battle Pythium, O…
August 10, 2017
After a season plagued by seedling diseases caused by cool, wet soils at planting, farmers have a new option to Read More
Corn Field
FertilizerProtect Applied Manure Straight From the Manure Pit to …
August 10, 2017
Farmers who use liquid manure to fertilize corn crops can now mix Instinct nitrogen stabilizer in their pit for easy Read More
Iowa waterways
Stewardship2,600 Iowa Farmers Commit $8.7 Million to Water Quality…
August 9, 2017
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced Tuesday that a record number of Iowa farmers signed up to install nutrient Read More
Natives-First-Purple_Prairie_Clover
Seed/BiotechLa Crosse Seed Continues Focus on Soil and Water Conser…
August 9, 2017
La Crosse Seed is doing its part to lead communication to ag retailers across the country on the importance of Read More
HerbicidesAg Secretary Perdue Comments on Dicamba Issue
August 9, 2017
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue indicated to reporters this week that he would like to see the industry work out a Read More
Treated-Seed-in-planter
Seed/BiotechSeed Treatment Q&A: Insight from Iowa State’s…
August 8, 2017
Technology has changed drastically since the 1990s. Televisions are thinner, phones are smaller and tractors can steer themselves. Technology has Read More
soybeans
Seed/BiotechWhen and Why to Double Inoculate Your Soybeans
August 8, 2017
Double inoculation is the act of using a double application of a rhizobial inoculant. This quickly establishes high populations of Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsMonsanto, Valent Expand Partnership in Roundup Ready PL…
August 7, 2017
Monsanto Co. and Valent U.S.A. LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd., have announced today expanded partnership in Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100Cause of Gar Tootelian Fire Under Investigation
August 7, 2017
Over one hundred firefighters and equipment responded to a four-alarm shop fire at the Gar Tootelian, Inc. (GAR) facility in Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Licenses Enlist Events
August 7, 2017
Syngenta has entered into non-exclusive licensing agreements with Dow AgroSciences LLC and M.S. Technologies, L.L.C. for the Enlist E3 Event Read More
ManagementThe News From InfoAg, and Dicamba Woes Continue
August 3, 2017
CropLife Editors Paul Schrimpf and Matthew Grassi discuss trends and topics that emerged at last week’s InfoAg Conference in St. Read More
FrontEntrancetoIntivityCentet
EquipmentAGCO Intivity Center Marks Five-Year Anniversary
August 3, 2017
Intivity Center, the official visitor center for AGCO Corp. in North America, commemorates five years of operation this summer. Opened Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto’s Fraley Addresses Dicamba Situation in …
August 3, 2017
Monsanto Chief Technology Officer Robb Fraley — a man who has seemingly been at the center of Monsanto’s PR campaign Read More