French court says ‘non’ to genetically modified corn
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France on Monday definitively banned the growing of genetically modified corn in the European Union's top grain producer, where a majority of people remain strongly opposed to foods based on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
France’s left-wing majority senate approved a standing ban on MON810, a type of GM corn produced by agribusiness giant Monsanto, even though it has been cleared at European Union level, saying it poses a risk to the environment.
The law had already been adopted by the lower house of parliament last month.
"This law aims to give a legal framework to our country, to ensure that a ban is applied," the French agriculture minister, Stéphane Le Foll, told the Senate at the start of the debate.
France’s General Association of Corn Producers had asked the Council of State to weigh in on the parliament’s restrictions on GM corn, but the court also rejected their case on Monday.
The council said that the current ban on MON810 had not brought about an urgent economic crisis for the corn growers, as they had alleged.
France adopted a decree in March halting the sowing of Monsanto's insect-resistant MON810 corn, the sole GM crop allowed for cultivation in the European Union.
The law also applies to any strain adopted at EU level in future, including the GM variety Pioneer 1507, developed jointly by DuPont and Dow Chemical. That product might be approved by the EU executive later this year, after 19 of the 28 member states failed to gather enough votes to block it.
France is pushing to cut Brussels out of the process entirely, with future GM authorisations taken only at the national level.
The Socialist government, like its conservative predecessor, has opposed growing GMs because of public suspicion and widespread protests by environmentalists.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)