FranceFrance

French high court rules GM-maize ban illegal, but don’t hold your breath

18.12.2011

Paris – France’s highest court, the Conseil d’Etat, has overturned a national ban on the cultivation of a genetically modified maize crop, ruling that the government must prove that the GM plant poses major health or environmental risks. The court said France’s agriculture ministry “has not provided the proof (that the corn) presents a major risk to human or animal health, or to the environment.” It remains unclear, however, whether the ruling means an end to the case. French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said he would work to uphold the ban, because there were still too many uncertainties on the consequences for the environment. The GM maize in question (MON 810) is made by US firm Monsanto. MON810 was approved for cultivation in the EU back in 1998, and currently that approval is in the process of renewal after a positive safety assessment. But France – along with other refusenik countries like Germany and Greece – has continued to ban it.

Same ruling – different year

In September, the European Court of Justice ruled that France had used improper procedures to impose the ban. Carel du Marchie Sarvaas from The European Association for Bioindustries (EuropaBio) said the two judgments would send a clear message: “Bans on GM crops cannot be based on political dogma. As both judgments state, no ban on planting GM crops can be declared without valid scientific evidence – something France and other European countries have not produced.” MON810 is one of two commercially grown GM crops in Europe. Under current rules, authorisation for genetically modified plants comes from the EU level after a safety assessement by EFSA .

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