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World's biggest GE company pulls out of Europe

World's biggest GE company pulls out of Europe

In a major development signalling a further decline in global GE prospects, the world's biggest biotechnology company Monsanto has announced it is pulling out of developing wheat and barley for the European market, Green Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said today.

The company has also announced it will slash its global workforce by 7 to 9 per cent by the end of August next year, discontinue its plant-made pharmaceuticals programme and reduce the costs associated with its Roundup herbicide business.

"This is hugely significant for New Zealand," Ms Fitzsimons said today.

"Europe is one of our biggest markets. Monsanto's move confirms how sensitive this market is. It confirms that there is no point growing GE products when one of our biggest markets doesn't want them.

"We also have to be aware that if we become a GE producer, Europe could turn its back not only on any GE products, but on all of our products, as our non-GE products stand to be tainted by association.

"It is also hugely significant that Monsanto is moving out of its plant-made pharmaceuticals programme.

"Many people don't realise that the vision for a future GE-producing New Zealand, as planned by sectors of our business and science communities, and by our Government, rests not in food products but in biopharming - the genetic engineering of food crops and animals to contain medical products including vaccines.

"Clearly Monsanto is not finding this operation profitable. This should be a warning to New Zealand," Ms Fitzsimons said.

Monsanto announced what it is calling its "mid-term strategic actions" last night our time, in tandem with its latest financial results. Go to: http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto/layout/media/03/10-15-03.asp

The next thing to watch for, tomorrow morning our time, is the results of the British Government's farm-scale trials of GE crops. Go to: http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/gm/fse/

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