EU – France proposes tougher rules for modified crops
BRUSSELS, March ', 2008 - France on Monday proposed scrapping theEU's present system for authorising genetically modified crops for tougherstandards which take into account a wide range of environmental and safetyfactors. A European Commission spokeswoman said that no member state spoke against the French proposals, while French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo saidabout six of them spoke in favour, including Spain, Italy and Poland. "A taboo subject has been opened up," he told a press conference followinga meeting with fellow EU environment ministers in Brussels. Under the French proposals, which Borloo said also had German support, amulti-discipline and independent assessment would be used to considerproposals for authorising GMOs, the subject of strong debate in France andelsewhere. At the moment, European Food Safety Agency gives a scientific opinion aboutGMOs under consideration for coming on the market before it goes to memberstates to decide whether to allow the new product. However, because member states are usually split on authorising GMOs, thedecision reverts to the European Commission, which in turn usually followsEFSA's opinion. Under the French plan food safety concerns would be considered alongside issues such as the farming economy, soil deterioration and effects on othercrops. "To change the expertise does not mean a ban on GMOs," the French ministerassured. "GMOs merit a proper procedure and a real protocol to be placed on themarket," he added. France has banned the growing of a GMO maize variety produced by the USgroup Monsanto, the only genetically modified crop grown within the EU, mainlyin Spain.