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'Non!': France Bans Monsanto's Genetically Modified Corn

French PM said decision was "to protect the environment"

Common Dreams staff

(SIPA/Durand Florence)

France has announced today that it is imposing a new temporary ban on Monsanto's MON810 maize in the interests of protecting the environment.

The announcement comes from French Agricultural Minister Bruno Le Maire who said the decision was a "precautionary measure."

The move restates a 2008 ban, which was overturned by the country's highest court in November.

Last month France asked the European regulators to suspend the authorization to plant Monsanto's genetically modified MON810 corn saying the decision was based on studies showing GM crops "pose significant risks for the environment."

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According to the official statement from the government on the ban of the cultivation of MON810, the Minister of Agriculture decided to take the conservative measure on the temporary ban of maize MON810 today due to the closeness of the sowing season in order to protect the environment.

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Agence France-Presse reports:

France bans strain of Monsanto GM maize

[...] France's top administrative court in November overturned a government order banning French farmers from planting genetically modified crops from Monsanto. [...]

France's agriculture ministry imposed a ban in February 2008 amid concerns over public safety, but the French State Council said the government had failed to prove that Monsanto crops "present a particularly elevated level of risk to either human health or the environment". [...]

"If the European Union does not act, we can invoke the safeguard clause" which allows EU nations to independently restrict or prohibit the sales of products, the French agricultural ministry said.

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Reuters adds:

France restores ban on GMO maize crops

[...] The government had immediately said it would "examine all ways" to maintain it despite the decision.

The decree banning MON810 was due to be published on Sunday, likely in time to prevent sowings as maize plantings are only starting in France. Farmers also expressed fears of having their fields ransacked by anti-GMO activists like in 2007, the year before the previous ban.

France, which holds a presidential election next month and where public opinion is fiercely opposed to genetically modified organisms (GMO), had asked the European Commission last month to suspend the authorisation to sow the maize (corn), the only GMO crop allowed for cultivation in the European Union.

The French government's request to the EU Commission was based on "significant risks for the environment" shown in recent scientific studies, it said.

With maize sowing getting underway in France, anti-GMOs had called on the government to act quickly, concerned that farmers may sow the plants sometimes dubbed as "Frankenstein foods".

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