BERLIN (AFP) — US biotech giant Monsanto said Wednesday it was considering legal action against Germany's decision to ban a type of genetically modified maize -- MON 810 -- manufactured by the firm.
"Monsanto is examining all available options and reserves the right to take legal steps so that German farmers can sow MON 810 in the current season," said Ursula Luettmer-Ouazane, head of Monsanto's German division, in a statement.
MON 810 is "safe for human health, animals and the environment, which has been proved by an overwhelming number of scientific studies," the firm added.
On Tuesday, German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner told reporters she was outlawing the cultivation of the MON 810 maize -- modified to be super resistant against crop-destroying insects -- on environmental grounds.
"I have come to the conclusion there are just reasons to assume that the genetically modified maize MON 810 represents a danger for the environment," Aigner said.
"Therefore, the cultivation of MON 810 is now banned in Germany."
The environment ministry had undertaken a "rigorous study to weigh the pros and cons," she said, adding that "new scientific elements" had come to light justifying the decision to ban the GM crop.
Fields containing genetically modified corn make up a mere 0.2 percent of Germany's total maize-producing land -- with only 3,700 hectares (9,100 acres) of land sown with GM maize.
Monsanto pointed to the fact that the safety of MON 810 has been demonstrated by the United States, Japan, Canada and the European Commission.
"Farmers worldwide have been benefiting from the advantages of insect-resistant maize for 10 years -- and the trend is growing," the firm said.
Around 125 million hectares contained genetically modified plants in 2008, a rise of almost 10 percent on the previous year, according to statistics from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech.