9 July 1999

France warned on GMlicence laws

A COURT battle between France and the EU Commission over genetically modified organisms moved a step closer this week, as Brussels issued a final warning to the French government for its failure to stick to EU licensing laws.

Despite clearing all the legal hurdles for approval in 1997, two oilseed rape varieties are still being held from the market due to the French moratorium on GMOs introduced last July.

This, says the commission, contravenes EU legislation controlling the release of GMOs.

Brussels has also given France a final warning over its failure to process fresh applications for GMOs. EU rules state that new applications should be forwarded to the commission within 90 days, but France has not done this for over a year.

The French government now has two months in which to respond, after which the commission will apply for a full European court hearing.

In a separate action, the EU authorities are also preparing to impose financial penalties on Luxembourg for ignoring a previous court ruling against its ban on GMOs.