Farming News - France lobbies EU to ban GM maize

France lobbies EU to ban GM maize

21 Feb 2012

The French Ministry for Ecology yesterday requested that European regulators suspend authorisation of ag-chem giant Monsanto’s MON810 maize, currently the only genetically modified crop licensed for production in the EU, on the back of new studies which the ministry said reveal the threat cultivation of GM crops poses to the environment.


 maizeFollowing the lifting of a 2008 French ban on Monsanto’s maize late last year, when the country’s highest court and the European Court of Justice found France’s prohibition to be illegal, the country’s farming and ecology ministers and President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to find a way to renew the ban. Since that time Monsanto has said it will not be selling its GM corn to France in 2012.


Last year, cables released by freedom of information activists Wikileaks showed Monsanto had asked US government officials to put pressure on European countries which continued to resist its GM products. France, the EU’s top agricultural producer and a country where anti-GM sentiment is rife, was a prime target. Following France’s decision to ban MON810, leaked cables revealed the US embassy recommended “We calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU”.


French officials said calls made on Monday to revoke the license on MON810 were based on studies which showed cultivation of the crops poses "Significant risks for the environment." The studies include one by the European Food Safety Authority, which was examining a different GM crop, but which the French Ecology Ministry said is relevant to MON 810.


In a statement, the ministry said that, if the EU refuses to act, it would invoke a safeguard clause allowing the state to independently restrict sales of certain products.