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Go your own way

Agriculture.com Staff 09/24/2009 @ 10:16am

Agricultural chemical and seed companies have long hoped European resistance to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) would melt. In Bayer CropScience's case, though, it's prepared to move ahead in transgenic technology without Europe.

"No one knows what the outcome will be," says Friedrich Berschauer, chairman of the board of management for Bayer CropScience. "But we cannot be deterred from our approach. It's based on logic. Whether the Europeans go along with us or not, the market outside of Europe is large enough (for transgenic crops)."

Berschauer discussed the issue at Bayer CropScience's annual international press conference held last week in Monheim, Germany. Earlier this year at a meeting that included U.S. journalists and weed scientists at Monheim, Berschauer foresaw no easing of European resistance to GMOs.

"It is just a purely emotional discussion," says Berschauer. "It has nothing to do with logic."

Europeans aren’t opposed to all agricultural technologies. Although there is pressure in Europe to reduce agricultural pesticide usage, Europeans have understood why farmers use pesticides, says Berschauer.

"We did a lot to explain to people why agrochmicals are necessary, what would happen if farmers didn't use fungicides," he says. There is a long history."

Persuading the European public to accept GMOs hasn't been as easy. Part of the reason for the resistance includes mistakes made by some agricultural chemical and seed firms, he says.

"There have been huge mistakes made by some companies, huge communication mistakes. You need to convince the woman on the street why she should accept GMOs," he says.

European GMO acceptance likely won't occur in the short-term, he said last week. "If Europe joins us, that is good, but if not, let it be," says Berschauer.

Agricultural chemical and seed companies have long hoped European resistance to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) would melt. In Bayer CropScience's case, though, it's prepared to move ahead in transgenic technology without Europe.

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