Posted by: Mahdi Ebrahimi | January 10, 2008

French farmers say government playing GMO games

France’s main farm union on Wednesday accused the government of playing political games on the issue of genetically modified (GMO) crops and cast doubt on the country’s ability to defy the European Union on the issue. Speaking to reporters, FNSEA President Jean-Michel Lemetayer decried what he described as government foot-dragging on talks over a new GMO law and said planned legal steps to extend a GMO ban could fail.

A committee of scientists, farmers, politicians and non-governmental organizations was due to say later on Wednesday whether the MON 810, a GMO maize developed by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto, posed risks for consumers.

Its opinion will help shape a government decision in the coming days on whether to invoke a safeguard clause allowing European Union members to refrain from applying EU laws on the basis they may put population at risk.

“The government won’t be able to escape from its responsibilities on this issue,” Lemetayer said.

He said the decision on an extension of the ban was likely to be a political move with little long-term substance.

“Unless there is any new scientific evidence, they (the French government) already know the response because it was given to the Germans,” he said.

Last month, Germany lifted a temporary sales ban on MON 810 after Monsanto agreed to extra crop monitoring in the country.

The FNSEA, which promotes freedom of choice on GMO use, also suggested the government’s stance towards GMOs was contradictory given that France was already reliant on imported animal feed products containing GMOs.




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