St. Louis-based Monsanto has permanently stepped out of Europe’s application line for growing new crops using genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Instead, the world’s largest seed company is going to work on increasing its sales of non-GMO seed and other farm products in Europe. Jose Manuel Madero, Monsanto’s president and managing director for Europe, said the company will focus on conventional seeds because it really did not have much of a GMO business in Europe. Several European countries ban crops using GMOs outright and the European Union’s application process for new GMOs in practice is extensive and sometimes never ending. Non-GMO business accounts for more than 98 percent of the $1.72 billion in sales Monsanto booked in Europe. It is currently investing $300 million to expand existing convention seed production facilities in France, Romania, Hungary and Turkey. Monsanto has also made a $150 million investment in the Ukraine where it is bringing Europe’s largest seed production plant on line. The Ukraine is a major grain exporter, and currently imports its seed. Nature, the international journal of science, explained what Monsanto was up against this way: “The approval process for GM crops has ground to a halt in Europe despite a clear regulatory path.” “Crops must first be deemed safe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, Italy. The European Commission must then produce a draft decision within three months, to be voted on by representatives from EU member states before approval can be finalized.”