Ethan A. Huff
August 9, 2013
It has been confirmed that France will extend its moratorium on the cultivation of Monsanto’s genetically-modified (GM) MON810 corn within its borders, despite a recent ruling by the French Council of State that the longstanding ban violates European Union (EU) law. As reported in a recent AFP article translated into English by GMWatch.org, French Head of State Francois Hollande made an official public announcement that the moratorium will, indeed, be extended in order to ensure the integrity of the nation’s agricultural system.
France first enacted a temporary ban on MON810 more than six years ago, citing an array of environmental threats posed by the untested “Frankencorn.” The decision came after the European Commission (EC), of which France is a member, failed to suspend approval of the crop after studies had shown that the transgenic corn carries with it “important risks” to the environment. After consulting with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the EC ultimately decided to ignore the tests and approve the GM crop anyway, forcing France to unilaterally reject it.
“Because of the proximity of the planting period, the Agriculture Ministry has decided … to take a precautionary measure that means to temporarily prohibit the cultivation of the corn MON810 on the national territory in order to protect the environment,” read a statement issued by the French government last year.
Fast forward roughly a year and a half and the EC still has not provided a shred of solid evidence showing that MON810 will not contaminate other crops or otherwise harm the environment. As such, France has decided to extend the ban, presumably indefinitely, rather than jump on the GMO bandwagon. Setting a bold example for the rest of the world to follow, France has chosen to exercise the precautionary principle and protect its agricultural heritage rather than succumb to biotechnology industry pressures.
“Why did we impose the moratorium on GMOs? Not because we do not want progress, but in the name of progress,” said Head of State Francois Hollande recently about the decision to extend the ban. “We cannot accept a maize (corn) product that may have adverse effects on other [agricultural] products.”
Nine EU member states have rejected MON810 ‘Frankencorn’
According to EuropaBio.org, MON810 is one of only two GM crops currently permitted for planting anywhere in the EU. Besides MON810, a GM potato variety known as Amflora was approved back in 2010. But France and several other EU member states, including Austria, Hungary, and Switzerland, have all implemented full bans on GM crops, thanks to a precedent set by the EC that recognizes the freedom of individual member states to reject GMOs.
However, the Council of State is now saying that bans on GM crops can only be autonomously enacted by EU members states in cases of “an emergency” or if a situation poses “a major risk,” two scenarios that the advisory body obviously does not accept as valid in this case, considering its attempted overruling. Still, President Hollande, Agriculture Minister Stephane Foll, and others have repeatedly stressed that France will continue to oppose GM crops for the protection of French agriculture.
“We cannot accept that a product — corn — have [sic] bad consequences on other produce,” added Hollande. “[We will] secure this decision legally, at a national level and especially at a European level.”
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