If a scientific panel decides their safety is questionable, France may apply an EU measure to implement a long term ban on genetically modified (GM) crops.
A temporary ban affecting commercial cultivation of GM crops was put in place by President Sarkozy last October as part of plans to make France greener. It prevented new crops being planted until a more permanent decision on the environmental policy is made.
The ban is due to come to an end at the start of February, by which time a decision will be announced.
Should the French decide to extend its GM ban, it will be following in the footsteps of Austria, which enforced a ban on the import and processing of MON810 and T25 maize in June 1999. Austria used the same EU measures to implement the ban, expressing concern about the effects on non-target organisms and the development of resistance to toxins by target organisms.
Risks are not known
The European Commission has been debating whether to force the country to lift its restrictions since 2005, as Austria has never produced the necessary scientific evidence to argue that GM crops do carry health risks. One of the main concerns regarding GM crops is that pollination could cross-contaminate non-GM crops grown in the vicinity – and that ultimately the long-term health effects of GM on humans are not known.
France debates future of GMO’s