France’s temporary ban on Monsanto GM maize rejected

France’s temporary ban on the planting of a variety of GM maize by Monsanto has been rejected by Europe’s food safety agency.

The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) said “there is no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment” to support a ban.

A spokesman for Europe’s health commissioner, John Dalli, told AFP news agency that the EU executive “will consider how to follow up on this ruling, though technically we could ask France to raise its ban (on the Monsanto variety)”.

In February, France had asked the commission to suspend the cultivation of MON810 in its country, citing potential risks to the environment.

In 2008, France, the EU’s largest grain grower, banned MON810 after public protests against GM maize. This ban was overturned by France’s highest court in November 2011.

But in March, the French government reintroduced the ban “to protect the environment”, according to the country’s agricultural ministry.

MON810, known by its trade name, YieldGard, has been genetically modified to produce toxins that kill insect pests that rob crop yield. However, some experts claim it can also be damaging for plants and animals.

Monsanto said in January that it would not sell MON810 maize in France as the market was “not ready”.

Five other EU countries – Germany, Greece, Austria, Luxemburg and Hungary – also ban MON810 cultivation.

The latest ruling in France comes amid rising tensions over a field trial of GM wheat at Rothamsted Research.

Activists from the protest group Take the Flour Back are planning a “mass action” against the crop at the site this Sunday (27 May). They have vowed to tear up the crop unless the trial is halted.

Last Sunday, Hector Christie, an old Etonian farmer, was arrested after breaking into the Rothamsted site where the wheat is being grown and allegedly cutting the top off several plants.

Mr Christie, from Devon, is due to appear before magistrates in St Albans on 13 July charged with criminal damage.

For more on this topic

France bans Monsanto GM maize amid US protests

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