The French Government has called on the EU to ban the use of Monsanto’s genetically modified MON810 maize seeds across Europe.
The request by the French Environment Ministry was submitted to the EU Commission on Monday (20 February).
In a statement, the ministry said the new request was “based on the latest scientific studies” which showed that the use of GM crops “pose significant risks for the environment”.
It referred to a study carried out in December by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that raised concerns about another form of GM maize, Bt11.
In the study, EFSA’s GMO Panel gave the green light for the EU cultivation of GM Bt11 maize, but highlighted a number of concerns about the possible negative impacts of the GM maize insect populations, including butterflies and moths.
France will re-impose a temporary ban on the cultivation of GM maize if the commission does not impose an EU-wide moratorium before the planting season begins, French Government officials said.
“If the European Union does not act, we can invoke the safeguard clause,” said the ministry, referring to EU laws, which allow EU countries to independently restrict or prohibit the sale of products.
France is reluctant to allow GM crop cultivation in view of public hostility.
EU governments are divided over authorising GM crops, which has frustrated farmers and biotech companies, including BASF, which recently scaled back its research into GM crops in Europe.
• Five other EU countries – Germany, Greece, Austria, Luxemburg and Hungary – also ban MON810 cultivation.