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Sarkozy slammed for GM crop ban

By staff reporter, 15-Jan-2008

Related topics: Processing

The Biotechnology Industry Organization has fired a broadside at French President Nicolas Sarkozy after he banned a GM corn crop without, it says, 'any scientific basis'.

The BIO CEO Jim Greenwood, issued the strongly worded statement yesterday. In it he claims President Sarkozy's decision to ban the sale and commercial planting of MON 810 has violated trade laws.

Bio claims that not only is the crop safe but it is actually greener, as it can reduce the environmental impact of farming.

"By growing biotech crops, farmers reduce pesticide applications and the consumption of fuel and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reduce the need for ploughing to control weeds, which leads to better conservation of soil and water, and a decrease in soil erosion and compaction," wrote Greenwood.

MON 810 was developed by Monsanto and has been reviewed and approved in 13 countries, including the European Union, which authorised this corn variety back in 1998. While reminding President Sarkozy that the regulatory system for products of agricultural biotechnology ought to be purely "science-based", Greenwood asserted that "there simply are no safety concerns that justify this ban".

He went on to say the ban will only serve to harm French farmers and consumers and urged the "US Government and the European Commission to object to this unnecessary and unscientific policy at the highest levels."

However, the ban has been welcomed in some quarters. According to a report on Bloomberg, an alliance of environmental organisations, including Greenpeace, said: "The government has kept its word and taken a responsible decision. Doubts about the risks of MON810 are numerous.''

At a recent meeting of his Union for a Popular Movement party (UMP), Sarkozy defended the ban.

He said: "It does not mean that France does not participate in GMO research. It does not mean that there will not be GMOs in the future.

"It simply means that with the principle of precaution at stake, I am making a major political decision to carry our country to the forefront of the debate on the environment."