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France bans GM maize

FRANCE has banned farmers from growing Monsanto genetically-modified maize MON810 “to protect the environment.

Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said the ban was timed for the start of the sowing season. However, although green groups applauded the ban, they said it was “too fragile” and seed developers’ associations said it was a retrograde move.

France Nature Environnement said the ban came just in time as sowing could begin as early as mid-March in some regions – although Greenpeace said it was overdue as sowing had perhaps already started. However, when former Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet started the process for a new ban she warned farmers not to plan to use GM crops.

Biotech firm IBV said it feared the ban was “an unfounded decision” constituting “a rejection, pure and simple, of innovation in agriculture accentuating the distortion of competition within the EU”. Biotech association AFBV said it was a sacrifice of French research into plant biotechnologies: “Our country has chosen to take the path towards a long research hibernation, whilst the future holds an unprecedented explosion of innovations.”

Beekeepers union UNAF congratulated the government but said it feared GM crops had already been sown and Ecology Party MEP and green activist José Bové praised the government, saying he was “satisfied the government had fulfilled its commitments”.

Monsanto, however, said that it had never had any intention of selling GM maize to France in 2012 because in its view “marketing conditions were not in place”. France has also called on the European Commission to ban MON810 cultivation.

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