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France Determined to Continue GM Maize Ban

Immediate release (17 Jan 2012)

Calls to: Pete Riley 07903 341 065

GM Freeze welcomed the confirmation from the French Government it intends to continue its ban on cultivating Monsanto’s MON810 GM. [1]

***correction 30 Jan 2012: Bulgaria also bans GM cultivation, brining the EU total to seven countries. Apologies for this error. ***

The French Government, backed by President Sarkozy, first banned MON810 in 2008 as a “serious risk to the environment”. [2] The crop is genetically modified to produce toxins that kill insects. Following meetings with French farming organisations, last Friday’s Government statement insisted the Environment and Agriculture Ministers will uphold the cultivation ban despite November’s ruling from the Council of State (the country’s highest court) annulling the ban as insufficiently justified in law. [3] That ruling was itself prompted by September’s European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in a case brought by Monsanto that the ban was invalid because proper procedure had not been followed by the French.

The crop is plagued with controversy. Five other EU countries – Germany, Greece, Austria, Luxemburg and Hungary – also ban MON810 cultivation. Following another 2011 ECJ ruling honey contaminated with GM pollen requires a full GM authorization and labelling before it can be sold. [3] Additional problems for farmers have emerged with the confirmation that insect pests have developed tolerance to the GM toxins in some maize crops in the US resulting in crops losses. [4]

Speaking for GM Freeze, Campaign Director Pete Riley said:

We wholeheartedly welcome the French Government’s determination to press on with the ban on cultivating Monsanto’s GM MON810 maize. This is yet another indication that the science underpinning the EU approvals process does not have the confidence of most citizens.

In addition to health and environmental concerns, other basic problems remain unresolved, such as how to prevent the contamination of crops and honey through pollen movement or human error, maintaining GM-free agricultural seeds and, critically, who is liable when things go wrong.

Instead of threatening countries like France that ban GM crops, the European Commission needs to address these concerns and produce legislation to protect farmers, beekeepers, consumers and the environment. If that means banning GM crops, then the Commission should support this rather than hanging on to the mistaken belief that GM crops will benefit the EU economy. The Commission should also help ensure the EU’s import policies don’t merely export any danger to health or the environment to other countries.

ENDs

Notes

[1] Reuters, 13 January 2012. “Update 1 – France Upholds Ban on Monsanto GM Maize

[2] Reuters, 28 November 2011. “French Court Annuls Ban on Growing Monsanto GMO Maize

[3] Jurist Legal News and Research, 9 September 2011. “ECJ rules France ban on genetically modified maize illegal

and

Dow Jones, 8 September 2011. “France Intends to Maintain MON810 Ban After Court Ruling” (text available from GM Freeze if link broken)

and

Reuters, 28 November 1211. “French Min Says Will Seek to Keep Ban on GMO Maize

[4] GM Freeze, 7 September 2011. “EU Court of Justice: Contaminated honey needs GM authorization

[5] GM Freeze, 10 November 2011. Insect Resistance to Bt Toxins in GM Insect Resistant Crops