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Published February 24, 2014, 09:26 AM

France moves to ban GM maize planting

France published a decree Feb. 17 to prevent the planting of genetically modified (GM) maize as a stop-gap measure, while the government works on changes to domestic and European laws to ensure a longer-term ban.

By: Reuters,

France published a decree Feb. 17 to prevent the planting of genetically modified (GM) maize as a stop-gap measure, while the government works on changes to domestic and European laws to ensure a longer-term ban.

The French government, which says GM crops present environmental risks, has been trying to institute a new ban on GM maize after a senior court twice struck down similar previous measures.

France also suffered a setback in the European Union recently when member states failed to agree on whether or not to approve a new GM maize strain, leaving the way open to the EU Commission to approve the variety for cultivation.

The government says its decree would come into force following a three-week consultation period that runs until March 9. Annual sowing of maize in France gets under way in the second half of March.

The Feb. 17 move was timed to avert any sowing of GM maize by farmers before a draft French law banning planting of genetically modified organisms is expected to be voted in April.

The current Socialist government, like its conservative predecessor, has opposed the growing of GMO crops in view of public suspicion and widespread protests from environmentalists.

Only one GMO variety is currently authorized for cultivation in the European Union — Monsanto’s MON810 insect-resistant maize. A GM potato was cleared by the European Commission but later blocked by a court.

Longstanding differences between EU countries resurfaced recently when they failed to secure a majority either for or against the approval of another maize variety, Pioneer 1507, developed jointly by DuPont and Dow Chemical.

France is now trying to win support to overhaul EU rules.

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