The French Government intends to continue its ban on cultivating genetically modified maize from Monsanto, type MON810 GM.
The French Government, backed by President Sarkozy, first banned MON810 in 2008 as a "serious risk to the environment". The crop is genetically modified to produce toxins that kill insects.
Following meetings with French farming organisations the last Government statement insisted the Environment and Agriculture Ministers will uphold the cultivation ban despite November’s ruling from the Council of State (the country’s highest court) annulling the ban as insufficiently justified in law.
That ruling was itself prompted by September’s European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling in a case brought by Monsanto that the ban was invalid because proper procedure had not been followed by the French.
More country bans
The crop is plagued with controversy. Five other EU countries – Germany, Greece, Austria, Luxemburg and Hungary – also ban MON810 cultivation.
Following another 2011 ECJ ruling honey contaminated with GM pollen requires a full GM authorization and labelling before it can be sold.
Additional problems for farmers have emerged with the confirmation that insect pests have developed tolerance to the GM toxins in some maize crops in the US resulting in crops losses.
The anti-GM lobby was pleased with the decision. Speaking for GM Freeze, Campaign Director Pete Riley said: "This is yet another indication that the science underpinning the EU approvals process does not have the confidence of most citizens.”
"In addition to health and environmental concerns, other basic problems remain unresolved, such as how to prevent the contamination of crops and honey through pollen movement or human error, maintaining GM-free agricultural seeds and, critically, who is liable when things go wrong.”
"Instead of threatening countries like France that ban GM crops, the European Commission needs to address these concerns and produce legislation to protect farmers, beekeepers, consumers and the environment,” Riley said.