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French Government Defies E.U. Court on GM Maize

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet

Arnaud Perrin, Wikimedia Common

PARIS—The French government continues to stand its ground against lifting the ban on growing genetically modified corn in France.

On Thursday, the European Court of Justice said that France's 2008 prohibition against Monsanto's MON810 variety was out of line on procedural grounds. But in a reaction, the French minister for the environment, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, told reporters she was more convinced than ever that MON810 should be kept from French fields, according to the French daily Le Figaro.

MON810 is one of only two commercially grown GM crops in Europe, where transgenic food remains hugely controversial. Under the current E.U. system, authorization for GM crops occurs at the European level, after a health and environmental safety assessment by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in Parma, Italy.

The European Commission has proposed changing that system so that each country can decide on its own to "opt out" of transgenic crops, but that measure has yet to be approved by member states. Meanwhile, France and five other countries have used a "safeguard clause" in the current law to ban cultivation of the approved crops.

But the E.U. court ruled that France should have told the European Commission about the ban ahead of time. In her reaction, Kosciusko-Morizet said that France will invoke the safeguard clause again, and that the ban on MON810 will stay in place in the meantime. EFSA and France's own Food Safety Agency have both said the ban on MON810 is unjustified.