French farmers, seedmakers appeal government GMO ban

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 29, 2012 12:53 PM
French farmers, seedmakers appeal government GMO ban

PARIS (Reuters) - French maize growers and seed companies appealed a ban on the cultivation of a strain of genetically modified maize to the country's highest court on Thursday, saying it was unjustified and economically harmful for farmers.

France placed a temporary ban on the growth of Monsanto's MON810 GMO maize (corn) earlier this month after a previous moratorium was annulled by the country's top court in November on the basis that it was not sufficiently justified.

"This restriction does not rely on any serious scientific element, and maize producers, hit by (insects), sustain real financial damage," French growers group AGPM, French seed firms group UFS and the maize and sorghum producers federation FNPSMS said in a joint statement.

France, which holds a presidential election next month and where public opinion is fiercely opposed to genetically modified organisms (GMO), asked the European Commission last month to suspend authorization to sow the insect-resistant maize, the only GMO crop allowed for cultivation in the European Union.

The French government's request to the EU Commission was based on "significant risks for the environment" shown in recent scientific studies, it said.

Global agribusiness company Monsanto said its GMO maize is perfectly safe.

French and European farmers have expressed concerns about the consequences of EU consumers' hostility to GMOs, saying it is likely to make them fall behind in the competitive world grain market.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide, editing by Jane Baird)