PARIS Feb 17 France published a decree on
Monday to prevent the planting of genetically modified maize as
a stopgap measure, while the government works on changes to
domestic and European laws to ensure a longer-term ban.
The French government, which maintains that 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
But in a surprise move, the French Senate late on Monday
rejected a proposed domestic law banning GM maize crops with a
majority of voters adopting a motion of inadmissibility claiming
the attempt as unconstitutional.
Monday's decree was timed to avert any sowing of GM maize by
farmers before a law banning planting of GMOs (genetically
After the rejection at the Senate a new attempt to pass a
domestic law banning GMO crops would need to be submitted
through the other assembly, where the ruling party has a clear
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.
"This will prevent there being a period during which GM
maize could be sown," a farm ministry spokesman said.
The current Socialist government, like its conservative
predecessor, has opposed the growing of GMO crops in light 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 agree on whether or not to approve
another GM maize variety, Pioneer 1507, developed by DuPont
and Dow Chemical, leaving the way open to the EU
Commission to clear it for cultivation.
France is now trying to win support to overhaul the EU
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.