France GM/Monsanto update – committee concludes serious concerns

January 11, 2008

The pressure is on French President Nicholas Sarkozy. His decision to ban or allow Monsanto’s GM seeds could be a pivotal moment in history for France and the rest of the world.

The French government last year temporarily suspended the use of Mon810, pending new legislation. But President Nicolas Sarkozy stated at a press conference on Monday that he is now willing to consider a definitive ban under an EU measure to ban genetically-modified crops if scientific studies confirmed their safety was in doubt.

The main French farmers’ unions have cast doubt on the safety of genetically-modified crops licensed to be grown on French soil.

While production of GM maize remains small in France, there has been a sharp increase: some 22,000 hectares (54,000 acres) of the crop were planted in 2007, up from 5,000 hectares in 2006. The Mon810 strain was developed by the American biotech giant Monsanto.

In light of new scientific data, “the committee can only conclude that there are serious doubts about the use of Mon810,” said the panel’s chairman, Jean-François Legrand, adding that the concerns were especially for flora and fauna.

Sarkozy will make an announcement as early as today, according to Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo.

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