| PARIS, March 16
PARIS, March 16 France set a temporary new
ban on the cultivation of Monsanto's MON810 genetically
modified maize on Friday, after a previous moratorium was
annulled by the country's top court in November.
France said that it was acting conservatively in advance of
"Because of the approach of sowing, the minister of
Agriculture decided today to take a conservative measure to
temporarily ban MON810 maize on national land in order to
protect the environment," Prime Minister Francois Fillon said in
France, by far the EU's largest grain grower, invoked a
so-called safeguard clause, reviving a ban put in place in 2008
and overturned by the country's highest court in November on the
basis that it was not sufficiently justified.
The government had immediately said it would "examine all
ways" to maintain it despite the decision.
The decree banning MON810 was due to be published on Sunday,
likely in time to prevent sowings as maize plantings are only
starting in France. Farmers also expressed fears of having their
fields ransacked by anti-GMO activists like in 2007, the year
before the previous ban.
France, which holds a presidential election next month and
where public opinion is fiercely opposed to genetically modified
organisms (GMO), had asked the European Commission last month to
suspend the authorisation to sow the maize (corn), 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.
With maize sowing getting underway in France, anti-GMOs had
called on the government to act quickly, concerned that farmers
may sow the plants sometimes dubbed as "Frankenstein foods".
An IPSOS poll for a lobby of biotech firms released on
Thursday said a majority of French people (52 percent) think
genetically modified organisms are risky for human health and
showed that 66 percent thought they had limited or non-existent
knowledge about the subject.
Global seeds giant Monsanto, which says its GMO maize is
perfectly safe, said in January it would not sell MON810 in
France in 2012 and beyond.