French government introduces temporary ban on Monsanto's genetically-modified maize
Prominent French anti-genetically modified crop campaigner and European MP José Bové has welcomed the government’s decision to put a temporary ban on a genetically modified, GM, strain of maize made by US company Monsanto. Bové said the move showed Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire was as ‘good as his word’.
“The risk has been avoided. We now have a guarantee that there will not be any GM maize in 2012,”he told the French news agency. “This is the fourth consecutive year, so obviously it’s good news.”
Bové, has in the past led a high-profile campaign against these crops and has served two separate prison terms for destroying GM crops of maize and rice in the late 1990s.
France's top administrative court in November overturned a government order banning French farmers from planting GM crops from Monsanto. However, President Nicolas Sarkozy swiftly pledged to seek new legal measures after the French ruling as well as a similar decision by the European Court of Justice.
France's agriculture ministry imposed a ban in February 2008 amid concerns over public safety, but the French State Council said the government had failed to prove that Monsanto crops "present a particularly elevated level of risk to either human health or the environment".
Bové says more still needs to be done to protect non-GM crop producers.
“French internal rules on this still need to be clearly defined,” he said. “If for one reason or another the moratorium is lifted, France will have to accept GM crops because there is currently no law which protects non-GM crops producers.”
He suggests France follows Germany’s example which has strict rules preventing GM crops from being planted within a one kilometre range of non-GM crops.
Monsanto said in January that it had no intention of selling GM maize in France as it felt the market was not ready.