PARIS Feb 17 France published a decree on
Monday to prevent the planting of genetically modified maize as
a stop-gap measure, while the government works on changes to
domestic and European laws to ensure a longer-term ban.
The French government, which says GM crops present
environmental risks, has been trying to institute a new ban on
GM maize (corn) after a senior court twice struck down similar
France also suffered a setback in the European Union last
week when member states failed to agree on whether or not to
approve a new GM maize strain, leaving the way open to the EU
Commission to approve the variety for cultivation.
The government said its decree would come into force
following a three-week consultation period that runs to March 9.
Annual sowing of maize in France gets under way in the second
half of March.
Monday's move was timed to avert any sowing of GM maize by
farmers before a draft French law banning planting of GMOs
(genetically modified organisms) is expected to be voted in
"This will prevent there being a period during which GM
maize could be sown," a farm ministry spokesman said.
The French Senate started debating the proposed domestic law
The current Socialist government, like its conservative
predecessor, has opposed the growing of GMO crops in view of
public suspicion and widespread protests from environmentalists.
Only one GMO variety is currently authorised for cultivation
in the European Union - Monsanto's MON810
insect-resistant maize. A GM potato was cleared by the European
Commission but later blocked by a court.
Longstanding differences between EU countries resurfaced
last week when they failed to secure a majority either for or
against the approval of another maize variety, Pioneer 1507,
developed jointly by DuPont and Dow Chemical.
France is now trying to win support to overhaul EU rules.
It was one of 12 countries to sign a letter last week
warning the Commission against approving Pioneer 1507. France is
also trying to reach a common position with Germany ahead of a
joint cabinet meeting in Paris on Wednesday.
"We need to give a legal framework to those countries that
do not wish to see GM maize grown," French Agriculture Minister
Stephane Le Foll told France Inter radio on Sunday.
France is turning to the idea of letting each EU country
decide on whether to approve GMO crops, a solution previously
blocked by member states but which the Commission has said it