French president promises to keep ban on Monsanto GMO corn despite court ruling
French President Francois Hollande said Friday that a ban on growing GM corn sold by US giant Monsanto would remain in place, despite a court ruling reversing the suspension.
“The moratorium will be extended,” he said on a visit to the southwestern department of Dordogne.
France’s Council of State court ruled Thursday that the French moratorium imposed on growing MON810 corn since March 2012 failed to uphold European Union law.
Under EU rules, such a ban “can only be taken by a member state in case of an emergency or if a situation poses a major risk” to people, animals or the environment, it said.
But Hollande said the ban on GM crops was in place “not because we refuse progress, but in the name of progress.”
“We cannot accept that a product — corn — have bad consequences on other produce,” he added, stressing that it would however be necessary to “secure this decision legally, at a national level and especially at a European level.”
MON810 includes an inserted gene that makes the corn plant exude a natural toxin that is poisonous to insect pests. This offers a potential financial gain for farmers, as they do not have to use chemical pesticides.
Green groups say that GM crops are potentially dangerous and should be outlawed as a precaution.
Greenpeace says MON810 encourages the emergence of pesticide-resistant insects, and has questioned whether the toxin affects bees, which are rapidly declining in Europe.
Scientists, though, have generally found no major problems with the first generation of GM crops, of which MON810 is one.
It has been okayed for farmers in many big grain-growing countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China, but has run headlong into problems in Europe.
Brussels cleared MON810 in 1998 for 10 years and Monsanto submitted a request in 2007 for it to be extended but the process has been effectively frozen since then.
In the absence of clear guidelines, MON810 is grown only on a small scale, notably in Spain and Portugal.
Monsanto’s GM corn is one of just two types of genetically engineered crops approved by the EU.
The other is BASF’s Amflora potato, but the German conglomerate has stopped producing it in the EU.
Europe also allows the imports of some GM products for animal feed.