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French Ban on GMO Maize Cultivation Gets Final Approval

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The French parliament gave final approval on Monday to a law prohibiting the cultivation of any variety of genetically modified maize in the European Union's top grain producer, where a majority of people remain strongly opposed to foods based on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

The French Senate voted on a law already adopted by the lower house of parliament last month that banned GMO maize (corn) cultivation, even though it has been cleared at European Union level, saying it poses a risk to the environment.

"This law aims to give a legal framework to our country, to ensure that a ban is applied," the French agriculture minister, Stephane Le Foll, told the Senate at the start of the debate.

France adopted a decree in March halting the sowing of Monsanto's insect-resistant MON810 maize, the sole GMO crop allowed for cultivation in the European Union.

The law also applies to any strain adopted at EU level in future, including the GM variety Pioneer 1507, developed jointly by DuPont and Dow Chemical. That product might be approved by the EU executive later this year, after 19 of the 28 member states failed to gather enough votes to block it.

The Socialist government, like its conservative predecessor, has opposed growing GMOs because of public suspicion and widespread protests by environmentalists.


On Friday, activists attacked a field in southwestern France whose owner had reported sewing the land with MON810 a few days before the decree banning it was published mid-March, the farm ministry said. Only one other farmer, using seeds bought in Spain, declared sewing GM maize this season, the ministry said.  
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