On 11 January French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced France will invoke an EU safeguard clause that will allow it to suspend the growing and marketing of a genetically modified (GM) crop that has EU authorisation.
Monsanto’s maize cultivar MON 810 is the only genetically modified crop to have market authorisation in France, but according to the results of a study by 15 scientific experts “new scientific facts relating to a negative impact on flora and fauna” had been found.
These include cross-pollination of GM with non-GM crops and a negative effect on insects, an earthworm species and microorganisms.
EU law states the European Commission has 60 days to decide if the new evidence is valid. According to Monsanto, there is no justification for France to invoke the European safeguard clause. “Monsanto will consider all options, including appropriate legal remedies and will continue to defend our farmer customers’ right to choose,” said Jonathan Ramsay of Monsanto public affairs in Brussels.
Commissioners will debate the issue of GM organisms in early February. – David Steynberg