Seed company Monsanto is set to abandon its plans to plant new genetically modified corn crops in Europe.
According to reports, the US-based firm withdrew EU applications for six new corn varieties due to increasing hostitility from European consumers and governments towards GM technology.
"It is clear to us that there isn't a major path to market and commercialise GM products for cultivation in Europe," said Mark Buckingham, a Monsanto spokesman in Cambourne, England.
France, the largest European grower of corn, banned growers from producing Monsanto's MON810 corn last year, with the government fearful that the corn, which produces its own insecticide, could pose a risk to the environment. Italy also called for the EU to block production of the variety. However, the MON810 crop is still grown commercially in Spain.
Buckingham added: “We need to focus our limited resources where we can get the best return. In Europe, there are significant opportunities in conventional breeding and not GM."
Environment secretary Owen Paterson is a vocal supporter of the implementation of GM technology within horticulture, and said it is the UK government's goal to reverse negative public perception.
He said in a speech earlier this year: "If used properly GM promises effective ways to protect or increase crop yields. It can also combat the damaging effects of unpredictable weather and disease on crops. It has the potential to reduce fertiliser and chemical use, improve the efficiency of agricultural production and reduce post-harvest losses."
The decision by Monsanto mirrors a similar move by chemicals firm BASF earlier this year, which announced it had discontinued its pursuit of EU approval on the commercial production of GM potatoes.