26 May 2000
France orders destruction of GM rape

By Philip Clarke

FRANCE has ordered the immediate destruction of all the GM-contaminated oilseed rape growing on its territory, “in order to protect the interests of farmers”.

According to a statement from the office of French prime minister Lionel Jospin, some 600ha (1483 acres) of the spring crop is growing in France.

“After careful examination of the conditions under which this has come about, and the immediate means of remedy, the government has decided to call on the groups responsible to proceed with the destruction of these rape plants,” it says.

“These measures have been taken in collaboration with the enterprises concerned – in particular the company importing these seeds – to protect the interests of farmers on the affected land,” it adds.

The statement also refers to the dangers of cross-pollination and the fact that the variety of GM rape concerned is not approved for cultivation in the EU.

It was supplied by Advanta Seeds and contains less than 1% GM material.

The decision to destroy the crops follows pressure from environmental and consumer groups, and the small farmers union, the Confederation Paysanne.

This body has welcomed the governments decision and called for a ban on seed imports from all countries growing GMs.

Frances main farming union, the FNSEA, said that it would advise its members to act on this decision.

“But we demand that the public authorities compensate producers fully and ensure they are not penalised in terms of lost area aid,” it says.

The government statement makes no specific mention of compensation, suggesting it is a matter for farmers and Advanta to resolve among themselves.

Advanta described the decision to destroy the crops as “disproportionate”.

But the company said that it would co-operate with the French authorities and its distributors to preserve the farmers interests.

Earlier this week, Sweden announced that it was to destroy 500ha (1235 acres) of GM contaminated rape grown by Swedish farmers.

However, farmers would have the option of waiting until after flowering (in July) so as to ensure they receive EU area aid payments.

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