GM maize ban to continue
Pointing to a new study on Syngenta’s GM maize Bt11, France’s Environment Ministry has asked the European Commission to suspend authorisation for the use of the MON810 maize sold by US agribiotech giant Monsanto as well. The latest scientific studies would show that the use of the GM crops “pose significant risks for the environment,” the ministry said in a statement. The study in question is an expert’s report on Syngenta’s Bt11 maize that was published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in December 2011. This line produces the same Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxin as MON810. In the study, EFSA’s GMO Panel gave the green light for the EU cultivation of Bt11, but highlighted a number of concerns about the possible negative impacts on insect populations, including butterflies and moths. As with other Bt-plants, the study also mentions the potential risk of sub-populations of targeted pest insects developing resistance, which would require adequate resistance management. In terms of biological efficacy, the panel reaches the conclusion that Bt11 and MON810 can be considered equivalent. The French Environment Ministry is now basing its arguments on that analogy, saying the report raises new doubts about the environmental risks of MON810. France will re-impose a temporary ban on the cultivation of GM maize if the Commission does not impose an EU-wide moratorium before the planting season begins, government officials said. In January, Monsanto announced it is not planning to sell MON810 in France anyway, as the political climate in the country is ill-disposed to accept GMOs.