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France's Macron backs mineral exploration, rues lost GMO research

PARIS - France will encourage more exploration in oil and gas as well as other minerals to reduce its dependence on imports, backed by new mining legislation to be put before parliament, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

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Agweek

PARIS - France will encourage more exploration in oil and gas as well as other minerals to reduce its dependence on imports, backed by new mining legislation to be put before parliament, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday.

The government has already awarded 10 exploration permits under a new "responsible mining" approach drawn up to accompany the bill to be introduced in parliament within months, Macron told a commodities conference in Paris.

Besides a large nickel industry in its Pacific territory of New Caledonia and energy resources in Guyana, France has untapped mineral reserves on the mainland, the minister said, including coal-bed methane in the eastern Lorraine region that is accessible without hydraulic fracking, currently banned.

"France must remain a hydrocarbons producer," Macron said, adding that it was possible to "develop a modern, credible framework for exploration and production of these resources with the full acceptance of the local population."

The gas reserves in Lorraine could contain the equivalent of 10 years of domestic gas consumption, the company in charge of their exploration said last year.

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European restrictions on genetically modified (GMO) crops have gone too far, hampering French research know-how in the area, the minister also said. "I regret that in some industries because of domestic debates we have lost our expertise - I'm thinking in particular of GMOs."

The growing of GMO crops is banned in France, the European Union's biggest grain producer, due to long-running controversy over their environmental impact, and seed developers have shifted research overseas.

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