French farmers lose bid to overturn GM corn ban

20th March 2008, Comments 0 comments

A group of French farmers on Wednesday lost a bid to overturn a government ban on a strain of genetically-modified corn

   PARIS, March 20, 2008 - A group of French farmers on Wednesday lost a bid to overturn a government ban on a strain of genetically-modified corn, a
month after it came into force.
   France's highest administrative body, the state council, rejected the
challenge from nine plaintiffs including a maize producers' association backed
by the US agribusiness giant Monsanto, which produces the strain.
   "The judge has rejected the complaint," said a spokeswoman for the state
council. "There are no serious doubts as to the legality of the decisions" to
ban the use of MON810 strain of corn, the only GM crop grown in France.
   The French government in February officially banned the GM crop after a
watchdog authority said it had "serious doubts" about the product in a report
that has been controversial even among the scientists who put it together.
   France's Provisional High Authority on GM Organisms pointed to what it
described as "a certain number of new scientific facts relating to a negative
impact on flora and fauna".
   In its ruling, the state council said the government was right to resort to
the ban as a precautionary measure, given concerns about the possible public
health effects.
   Reacting to the decision, a Monsanto spokesman said he was disappointed but expressed hope that the company's arguments will prevail when the state
council issues a final ruling in the case at a later date.
   France invoked a European Union safeguard clause to bar the maize that
gives an EU member state authority to ban a GM crop provided it has scientific
evidence to back this decision.
   France this month proposed replacing the EU's system for authorising GM
crops with tougher standards which take into account a wide range of
environmental and safety factors.
   Last year, 22,000 hectares (55,000 acres) were sown with the product --
less than one percent of the sown acreage for corn in France.

AFP 

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