February 7, 2008 / 5:17 PM / 11 years ago

France to formally request GMO ban at EU level

PARIS (Reuters) - France will file a request with the European Union to formally ban the commercial use of the only genetically modified (GMO) crop grown in the country this Friday, Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said.

An Anti-GMO activist destroys genetically-modified corn in a field in Miradou near Toulouse in southeastern France August 19, 2006. France will file a request with the European Union to formally ban the commercial use of the only genetically modified (GMO) crop grown in the country this Friday, Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said. REUTERS/Georges Bartoli

France issued an internal decree in December to suspend commercial use of MON 810, a maize developed by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto, until February 9.

It has since said it would invoke what is known as a safeguard clause at European Union level to secure a more long term ban though it will be required to provide new, scientific proof of the risks posed by the GMO seed to succeed.

MON 810 maize has been authorized for use throughout the 27-nation bloc by the European Commission.

“I inform you that (the safeguard clause) will be formally and legally sent to Brussels tomorrow,” Borloo told France 2 television on Thursday.

France would need to carry out additional studies into the GMO seed variety, Borloo added.

Monsanto has challenged France’s attempts to ban its MON 810 maize technology, describing the move as illegal and harmful to the biotech sector.

It will now be up to the European Union to say whether France’s use of the safeguard clause is justified.

The EU itself is set to re-evaluate the use of the MON 810 maize later this year.

France’s senate has been locked in debate over the content of a new law on GMOs, expected to be examined by parliament in early April.

The new law would respond to European Union requirements, since 2001, that member states formulate internal guidelines on the use of GMOs.

Those in favor of GMO crops, including some French farmers and seed companies, and those against, including much of the public and green groups, have been locking horns on how the new GMO guidelines should look.

Reporting by Valerie Parent and Mathilde Cru; Editing by Michael Roddy

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