Two rulings send different signs for green biotech
Luxembourg - Disorientation reigns in green biotechnology in Europe. Two decisions by the European Court of Justice regarding genetically modified crops point in different directions. On Thursday the judges left the opponents of GM crops consternated: They declared the French ban on the cultivation of GM maize by Monsanto illegal. Though the French authorities did have the right to impose a moratorium on the growing of Monsanto's insect-resistant MON810 maize, they based the decision on the wrong EU legislation, the judges said. France will, if necessary, issue a new ban on the genetically modified maize of US biochemicals company Monsanto, Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said, after the European Court of Justice ruled France's current ban on the maize was defective. 'If the French clause is cancelled for procedural reasons, we will take out a new safeguard clause (...) because the environmental questions (around MON 810) are still unanswered,' Kosciusko-Morizet said. The matter now lies with the Council of State, France's highest court on matters of public administration. Petitioned by Monsanto, the Council asked the European Court of Justice for an opinion on whether the country could justify its unilateral ban under the EU directive.
In another decision two days earlier, the Court sent the GM proponents in Germany and Europe reeling. It ruled that honey which contains trace amounts of pollen from genetically modified (GM) corn must be undergo full safety authorisation before it can be sold as food. In what green groups are calling a "groundbreaking" ruling, the decision could force the EU to strengthen its already near-zero tolerance policy on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Bavarian beekeepers claimed their honey had been "contaminated" by pollen from a nearby test field for Monsanto maize. In response to the rulings, the European Commission will in two weeks discuss the issue of GMOs with EU member states.