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Monsanto scraps GM maize in France

By Nathan Gray , 01-Feb-2012

Agriculture and biotechnology giant Monsanto has announced it will scrap plans to sell genetically modified maize in France this year, or anytime in the future.

The US based biotech giant said it does not plan to sell its genetically modified maize (MON810) in France despite recently overturning a 3-year ban on its sale.

In November, France’s highest court overturned a 2008 ban on growing Monsanto’s MON108 insect-resistant strain of maize – which is grown in several other European countries. The initial ban had been put in place in 2008 after the French government ruled that the GM maize was a “serious risk to the environment.”

However, the French high court – the Council of State – ruled last November that the Government had not produced enough evidence to back its claims that the crop posed a risk to health or the environment.

Unfavourable conditions

In a recent statement Monsanto said it "considers that favourable conditions for the sale of the MON810 in France in 2012 and beyond are not in place."

"This position was expressed several times and confirmed with the French authorities," it added.

The statement follows action by anti-GM activists in one of its plants in the south-western Aude region of France. The activists claimed that the company was about to begin selling its MON810 seeds to farmers in the coming weeks ahead of sowing season, whilst Monsanto said the seeds stored at the plant were for export use.

Pete Riley, campaign manager for anti-GM lobby group GM Freeze said the decision to srap plans for the sale of MON108 in France is yet another sign that Monsanto has failed to convince the public or policy makers that there is any benefit to growing to growing GM crops.”

This needs to be acknowledged by industry and politicians and there should be a big shift to agricultural research and development which addresses the future sustainability of farming in Europe,” said Riley.

An end to GM?

Monsanto’s move to block GM sales in France comes weeks after German biotech and chemicals giant BASF pulled out of European GM operations completely .

BASF said a lack of consumer and industry acceptance was the main reason for its decision to halt European operations in GM products. The company added that its decision to relocate to the USA was taken because there is “less resistance” to the technology.

The move by BASF was at the time described by environmental campaigners as “another nail in the coffin for genetically modified foods in Europe.”

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