1.High Authority on GMOs declares 'serious doubts' on MON 810 maize - Le Monde
2.Sarkozy expected to decide on GM crop ban - France 24
EXTRACT: Pressure mounts on the French government to impose an outright ban on the use of GM crop Monsanto 810 Maize. A scientific panel has concluded that safety concerns are justified. (ITEM 2)
NOTE: For the original Le Monde article in French http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-3244,36-997587,0.html
1.High Authority on GMOs declares 'serious doubts' on MON 810 maize
Le Monde, 9 January 2008 (English translation) http://www.gmfreeireland.org/news/index.php
The provisional High Authority on GMOs has found 'a certain number of new negative scientific facts which notably impact fauna and flora', in its opinion on the GM maize MON 810, according to a statement issued by its president Jean-FranÃ§ois Le Grand on Wednesday 9 January. 'We have serious doubts', added Mr. Le Grand, who is also a UMP Senator for the Manche region, as he delivered the commission's conclusions to the Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo. According to the President of the High Authority, the new scientific evidence include 'long-distance dissemination of the said GMO over many tens or even hundreds of kilometres', 'insect resistance' and 'observed impacts on flora and fauna' including earthworms and micro-organisms.
These conclusions will shape the government's decision on whether or not to implement the Safeguard Clause in Brussels. This clause allows EU member states to ban a genetically modified organisms approved by the European Union, subject to new scientific evidence. On Tuesday, Nicholas Sarkozy said he was prepared to invoke this clause in the event of 'serious doubt' about the only GMO grown in France 'until the European Commission sorts out the problem'.
The President of the Republic's decision 'in 48 hours'
'This opinion conforms to the spirit of the Grenelle de lenvironnement [France's national stakeholder discussions on the environment held late last year]. Leading scientists informed us of new scientific evidence in relation to that which allowed the approval of MON 810 in 1998 and they expressed serious doubts', said M. Borloo, who said the President of the Republic will make his decision 'within 48 hours.'
For the anti-GMO campaigner José Bové, who has been on hunger strike since 3 January to secure this Safeguard Clause, 'there is only one possible outcome'. The opinon given by the provisional High Authority 'means that all the scientific documents which show that there are problems must be taken into serious consideration', he added. On his side, Guy Kastier of Friends of the Earth, rejoiced at the decision, while expressing caution. 'Logically, the government should now sign the Safeguard Clause. This is heading the right way, provided it's not another pirouette with a safeguard clause that is retracted two months from now. It's important to take whatever time is needed for the debate', he said.
Same vibration from Greenpeace: 'We would have liked the Safeguard Clause to be put into effect right away, but given the evidence put out by the High Authority, I can't see how the government can avoid signing the clause without reneging on its commitments', said Arnaud Apoteker, who heads their GM campaign.
A little earlier in the day, the government spokesperson Laurent Wauquiez announced that the proposed law on genetically modified organisms, which has been scrutinised by the government, will be presented to the Senate on 5 February. 'The only purpose' of this report is 'to provide time for a calm debate on a subject that is of extreme concern in our country' he emphasised.
2.Sarkozy expected to decide on GM crop ban
France 24, January 10 2008 http://www.france24.com/france24Public/en/news/world/20080110-france-government-experts-doubts-GM-crop-ban.html
Pressure mounts on the French government to impose an outright ban on the use of GM crop Monsanto 810 Maize. A scientific panel has concluded that safety concerns are justified. (Report: N. Rushworth)
An expert panel convened by the French government said Wednesday that it had serious concerns about the safety of Mon810 maize, the only genetically-modified crop authorized in France for commercial use.
In light of new scientific data, 'the committee can only conclude that there are serious doubts about the use of Mon810,' said the panel’s chairman, Jean-FranÃ§ois Legrand, adding that the concerns were especially for flora and fauna.
The French government last year temporarily suspended the use of Mon810, pending new legislation. But President Nicolas Sarkozy stated at a press conference on Monday that he is now willing to consider a definitive ban under an EU measure to ban genetically-modified crops if scientific studies confirmed their safety was in doubt.
The main French farmers' unions have cast doubt on the safety of genetically-modified crops licensed to be grown on French soil. This also gives weight to the campaign by former presidential candidate José Bové, who is on hunger strike to try to bring about a change in policy over the crops.
While production of GM maize remains small in France, it has increased: some 22,000 hectares (54,000 acres) of the crop were planted in 2007, up from 5,000 hectares in 2006. The Mon810 strain was developed by the American biotech giant Monsanto.
Sarkozy will make an announcement within the next 48 hours, according to Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo