Daily News Archive

Bayer Cancels GE Research in India
(Beyond Pesticides, November 16, 2004)
Bayer, a multinational manufacturer of chemicals and genetically engineered (GE) crops has pulled out of their plans to research GE in India. The company admitted to Greenpeace that the future lies in “conventional” breeding, according to Greenpeace India.

"We don't need genetically engineered crops to feed India," said Divya Raghunandan, genetic engineering campaigner for Greenpeace India. "Around the world, in fact, the promises made by the genetic engineering industry have been unfulfilled, whether of increasing crop yields or reducing pesticide use. It doesn't surprise us that Bayer is giving up GE experiments in India. They saw the writing on the wall - the Indian public was not going to accept their manipulated cabbages and cauliflowers - and they cut their losses. It's time for the rest of the industry to give up on this misguided and inappropriate technology."

The significance of this pull out for Bayer, and indeed the entire genetic engineering industry, cannot be overestimated. In the second largest country in the world, with 80% of the population involved in agriculture, the Indian market for agro-chemical and seed companies is enormous. This retreat follows two decisions that set Bayer back earlier this year. In March 2004, the company announced they would be pulling out of GE crop research in the UK. A few months later, in June, Bayer announced they would not pursue commercialization of GE canola in Australia. Bayer's letter to Greenpeace India concedes that research into engineered cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, tomato and mustard seed has all been halted.

Bayer's withdrawal from GE research around the world is part of a larger pattern of retreat in the global biotechnology industry. For example, in a high profile turn-around, Monsanto globally abandoned genetically engineered wheat research earlier this year. The company also shelved its Australian work on genetically engineered canola one month prior to a similar decision by Bayer.

"It is clear that popular resistance to genetic engineering is not diminishing as the industry had hoped it would," said Doreen Stabinsky, GE campaigner for Greenpeace International. "No matter what country we're talking about, consumers are on the same page. They don't want to eat genetically engineered food. That's good news for farmers and good news for the environment."

For further information, contact:
Divya Raghunandan, GE campaigner, Greenpeace India: +919845535406
[email protected]; Doreen Stabinsky, GE campaigner, Greenpeace International: +1-202-285-7398; or Namrata Chowdhary, Media Officer, Greenpeace India: +919810850092

TAKE ACTION: Protect our land and food from genetically engineered ingredients and crops by buying USDA certified organic products. Lobby your supermarket to label GM food. Support local efforts to prohibit growing GM crops. Contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative, U.S.EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt, and USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman. For more information, see Beyond Pesticides' Genetic Engineering Page.