France allows GM wine trial

Producers are concerned that GM could affect the reputation of French wine

Controlled five-year experiment in Alsace could pave way for GM vineyards elsewhere in France if successful

A WINE producer in Alsace has been given permission to begin France's first full trial into genetically-modified vines.

Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire has announced the experiment which will see GM vines grow alongside ordinary ones for five years to see how the modified plants interact with their surrounding environment.

He said special measures would be implemented to stop cross-pollination and the trial was completely safe.

Mr Le Maire said it was important that French agriculture was not "backward-looking" and that it was not afraid to innovate and try out new technologies.

He told RMC: "We will wait four or five years for the results and if they are convincing, there will be a whole new procedure to see whether we allow it [on a wider scale]."

Agricultural research institute Inra conducted a GM vine experiment in Colmar between 2005 and 2009 but the modified plants were not allowed to grow full grapes or yield any wine.

Inra originally began tests on genetically modified vines in the Champagne region in 1999, but they were halted following protests.

Producers have said in the past that allowing GM will ruin France's reputation as a winegrower and could have environmental side-effects.

Green party leader Cécile Duflot said the latest decision was evidence that the government was being swayed by lobbyists and ignoring its environmental responsibilities.

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