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France

Hollande vows to uphold ban on Monsanto GM corn

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-03

French President François Hollande said Friday a ban on growing genetically modified corn by agriculture giant Monsanto will remain in place, despite a court ruling reversing the suspension.

French President François Hollande said Friday the country will maintain its current ban on growing genetically modified (GM) corn sold by US agriculture industry giant Monsanto, despite a court’s decision to lift the moratorium.

“The moratorium will be prolonged,” Hollande said during a visit to a farm in the southwestern region of Dordogne, adding the ruling would have to be reviewed at the national and European level.

“Why did we impose a moratorium on GM? Not because we are against progress, but for the sake of progress,” the president said. “We cannot allow one crop –corn– to have a negative effect on other crops.”

A ban on MON810 corn – one of two kinds of GM food crops whose cultivation is approved by the European Union – has been in place in France since February 2008 and extended in 2012.

Moratorium fails to uphold EU law

France's Council of State ruled this week that the French moratorium imposed on growing MON810 failed to uphold European Union law.

Under EU rules, such a prohibition “can only be taken by a member state in case of an emergency or if a situation poses a major risk” to people, animals or the environment, the top administrative court said.

MON810 includes an inserted gene that makes the corn plant exude a natural toxin that is poisonous to insect pests.

Environmental groups say that GM crops like MON810 encourages the emergence of pesticide-resistant insects, which could have unexpected consequences for other crops.

Greenpeace has questioned whether MON810’s toxin affects bees, which are declining in Europe and whose disappearance could have harmful effects on natural ecosystems.

But scientists have generally found no major problems with the first generation of GM crops that include MON810.

The GM corn is allowed for use by farmers in many big grain-growing countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China.

In December 2011 the Council of State had already ruled against the French government’s moratorium, but met similar resistance from the government of former president Nicolas Sarkozy.

While France's executive branch follows the advice of the Council of State in most cases, it is not obligated to do so.

Date created : 2013-08-03

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