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France 'definitively' bans GM crops

Tuesday 06 May 2014


The upper house of the French Parliament has given its approval to a law prohibiting the cultivation of GM maize crops on French Territory.


This latest move in a long legal struggle to keep France free of GM crops follows on from earlier restrictions, targeting Monsanto's MON810 maize, which were reintroduced by the French Agriculture minister Stéphane Le Foll in March this year. Although France has implemented several bans in recent years, these have been successfully challenged by EU courts in the past.


Across the EU, eight states have introduced bans on cultivation of the controversial crops.


On Monday, the French Senate voted in a law which had already been adopted by the National Assembly in April. Left-wing senators managed to overcome opposition from the right-wing and secure the banning legislation (France's previous right-wing government also introduced anti-GM bans when in power). The new legislation would prevent production of all varieties of GM maize, working on the assumption that their cultivation constitutes a threat to the environment.


The Senate vote was welcomed by Ecology Minister and former presidential hopeful Ségolène Royal and Agriculture Minister Le Foll. Though March's measures outlawed cultivation of MON810 –currently the bloc's only licensed GM crop, sold in the EU as Yieldgard – the new law aims to strengthen France's GM-free position ahead of the EU Commission's likely approval of Pioneer 1507, a maize variety developed jointly by Dow AgroSciences and DuPont Pioneer.


The licensing decision for maize 1507 passed to the Commission earlier this year when a qualified blocking majority was not reached in Council voting (conducted under old rules), though 19 of 28 states voted to deny the crop's approval.  

GM fields 'uprooted'


On Friday (2nd May), Anti-GM in France uprooted a field thought to contain MON810 maize, said to have been planted just days before the ban on cultivation was introduced in March. Commenting on the action, the ministry of Agriculture said it had been made aware of the GM crop being grown in Saubens by the owner, alongside another grower who had notified the Ministry that they were growing MON810, having purchased the seeds in Spain.


On Monday 5th, France's highest court rejected an appeal by maize growers' association AGPM against the government's earlier ruling on Mon810. The two growers from the Midi-Pyrénées region who declared their outlawed GM maize had applied for emergency measures to allow them to continue growing. The growers' crops will be tested and, if they are found to be MON810, will be destroyed, the Agriculture Ministry announced on Monday.  


Compromise measures, which would effectively renationalize the decision over whether to plant GM crops, are being prepared for debate under current EU president Greece. Under the measures, once a GM variety has been passed as safe by the EU commission, individual states could opt-out of growing it. However, the compromise package has enemies on both sides of the GM debate. Similar measures have been debated before under the Danish presidency, but rejected after EU leaders failed to reach an agreement.

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