EU considers ordering France to lift GMO maize ban

BRUSSELS Tue May 22, 2012 11:35am EDT

BRUSSELS May 22 (Reuters) - The European Union's executive said on Tuesday it was considering ordering France to lift its ban on growing a strain of genetically modified maize, after EU science experts said there was no justification for it.

In March France reimposed a ban on Monsanto's MON810 maize, an insect-resistant variety to protect chiefly against the European corn borer, after a previous prohibition was annulled by the country's top court late last year.

An opinion issued by the European food safety watchdog (EFSA) on Monday concluded that France had offered no new scientific evidence to justify the ban. The European Commission said EFSA's opinion confirmed its own initial assessment.

"From a purely legal point of view, the Commission could formally ask France to lift the measure, but we are currently reflecting on what will be the follow-up to EFSA's opinion," a spokesman for EU health and consumer chief John Dalli said.

The Commission is expected to wait for France's new Socialist government to reveal its position on the ban, which was imposed by the previous administration, before taking a final decision. That is unlikely before French parliamentary elections in June.

The timing of the French ban in March has ensured grain farmers will not be able to sow MON810 maize for the current growing season, the Commission spokesman added.

Monsanto was not immediately available to comment.

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