France still opposed to EU plan on GM crop growing

PARIS (Reuters) - France remains opposed to a plan by the European Union’s executive to let each member country decide on whether to approve the growing of genetically modified (GM) crops, the French farm minister said on Thursday.

The proposals unveiled by the European Commission in June aim to overcome divisions between countries that have made EU approval of GM crops extremely difficult.

But they have again divided EU members on the issue, with some like France and Spain rejecting the idea of devolving responsibility to national governments.

“The Commission must not hand over responsibility for this essential question for European agriculture,” French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said at a joint news conference with EU Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner John Dalli.

Dalli said he recognized the position held by France and other countries but hoped to advance rapidly in discussions with the 27 member states and the European Parliament in order to get the GM cultivation rules changed next year.

The proposed devolving of decision-making on GM-crop cultivation would allow countries to invoke environmental and socio-economic criteria, for example to ban GM crops in a region to avoid contamination of organic farms, Dalli said.

At the same time, the EU executive supported France’s demand for a review of criteria used in GM crop authorizations at EU level and would publish proposals later this year, Dalli added.

Reporting by Gus Trompiz; editing by James Jukwey