France adopts EU regulations on GM crop trials

8th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 8, 2006 (AFP) - The French cabinet on Wednesday adopted a bill that will allow regulated crop trials of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in line with EU rules, despite fierce opposition from green activists.

PARIS, Feb 8, 2006 (AFP) - The French cabinet on Wednesday adopted a bill that will allow regulated crop trials of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in line with EU rules, despite fierce opposition from green activists.

Faced with deep public suspicion towards GMOs, France has dragged its feet over implementing European Union directives from 2001 and 2003 but now faces heavy fines unless it moves to write the rules into national legislation.

Parliament is to start debating the bill by next month, and the government hopes a law will be adopted by the end of the year.

Sixty percent of the French are hostile to GMO crops, polls show, and 78 percent would back a temporary moratorium until their impact on health and the environment is fully understood.

Campaign groups including Greenpeace and the Farmers Confederation of anti-globalisation campaigner Jose Bove -- who has been jailed for destroying GMO crops -- have led fierce opposition to any loosening of the rules on GMOs.

Court decisions last year acquitting two groups of activists who destroyed GMO crops have further bolstered opposition to the experimental plantations.

Government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope said following the cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the text was a "balanced response" and would provide guarantees to both scientists and environmentalists.

Under the bill, farmers would have to officially register any plantation of modified crops, filling a legal void that allowed 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of GMO maize to be grown undeclared last year.

The public -- 78 percent of whom would back a referendum on GMO crops -- would also be consulted about any new GMO trials.

The World Trade Organisation on Tuesday called on Brussels to relax its regulations on GMOs, ruling that a European moratorium on GMO imports reflected business protectionism rather than concerns about health or the environment, according to diplomats in Geneva.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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