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Row brewing over GM corn crops

Farmers want to take advantage of Conseil d’Etat’s decision to overrule government ban

A row is brewing between farmers who want to plant GM corn in mid-March and government officials who want to ban them.

The Senate recently rejected a bill prohibiting the cultivation of GM corn, giving French farmers the opportunity to plant MON810, the only GM corn crop cultivated in Europe.

Luc Esprit, director general of the General Association of corn Producers (AGPM) said: “There are producers who have expressed their interest in MON810, mainly in the Midi-Pyrénées and Aquitaine.

“MON810 resists many insects, including the corn borer, which can affect 400,000 to 450,000 hectares in these regions.”

France had banned MON810 in 2008 and again in 2012, but the Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court, overturned the moratorium last August, because it did not comply with European law.

The government immediately announced it would seek other legal avenues to prevent the planting of GM maize, but now faces more difficulties as Brussels gave the green light for EU farmers to plant TC1507 corn.

The row has reopened the debate about the use of GM crops in Europe. With the new planting season looming, anti-GM groups have called on the French government to act.

In a joint letter to the Minister of Agriculture, NGOs, the Confédération Paysanne, organic farmers (FNAB) and beekeepers (UNAF) called for an "urgent ban all genetically modified crops".

The Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy said that a "decision [would] be taken before the next planting season which will take place between April and June 2014."


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