Monsanto says won't sell GMO maize in France in 2012

PARIS Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:53am EST

French beekeepers demonstrate to protest the use of genetically-modified organisms in front of French Monsanto headquarters in Bron, near Lyon, January 20, 2012. REUTERS/Robert Pratta

French beekeepers demonstrate to protest the use of genetically-modified organisms in front of French Monsanto headquarters in Bron, near Lyon, January 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Robert Pratta

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PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. biotech firm Monsanto said on Tuesday it does not plan to sell its genetically modified maize MON810 in France this year, nor after, even though the country's highest court overturned a 3-year ban in November.

"Monsanto considers that favorable conditions for the sale of the MON810 in France in 2012 and beyond are not in place," the company said in a statement, adding that it had told the French authorities about its intentions.

The French government said earlier this month it would uphold its ban on the insect-resistant strain of maize, despite the court's decision to annul the ban after finding that it had not produced enough evidence that Monsanto's MON810 posed a significant risk to health or the environment.

The farm ministry said France would reintroduce its moratorium on MON810 maize (corn) before spring sowings start.

Monsanto's statement follows an action by anti-GMO activists in one of its plants in southwestern France on Tuesday. They said Monsanto was about to sell MON810 to French farmers ahead of sowings whereas the U.S. firm said GMO seeds stored at some of its French plants were aimed at export markets.

Genetically modified organism (GMO) crops are widely used in countries such as the United States and Brazil but consumers in France, the EU's largest grain producer, are among the staunchest biotech skeptics.

Monsanto, which stressed that it had not sold nor tested MON810 in France since 2008, said that as long as the political climate remained unfavorable it would limit its offer to non-GMO seeds.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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