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GM maize harmless says food watchdog

Evidence is mounting up against France’s ban on the crop as new report is leaked

GENTICALLY modified maize poses no health risks, according to France’s leading food safety body.

According to Le Figaro, which says it has seen an unpublished report dated January 23, the Agence Française de Sécurité des Aliments (Afsaa) has concluded that MON 810 maize produced by the American firm Monsanto is harmless.

The maize – modified to produce substances which keep away insects– is the only GM crop which has so far been grown in France, but since spring 2008 commercial growing has been banned.

France applied to the EU to put in place “safeguard measures” which unilaterally banned the crop in France following a report commissioned by the Ecology Ministry from scientist Yvon le Maho.

However in October 2008 Efsa, the European food safety agency, criticised the French decision, saying they considered the maize harmless to both humans and animals and were unconvinced by claims of possible environmental harm from GM pollens.

Now France’s equivalent body has reportedly come up with the same view.

The report was commissioned when it was realised that Le Maho’s views had not been scrutinised by other scientists.

It is said to dismiss claims by le Maho, including possible harm to humans from the insecticide that the maize produces and possible links to mad cow disease and cancer.

The conclusions are likely to put extra pressure on Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo who on Monday will defend France’s “safeguard clause” in front of the European Commission. Countries wanting to retain these clauses must have solid scientific evidence of real risks to health or the environment.

Photo: Flickr/Shareski

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