Greenpeace today congratulated the French government on the announcement by President Nicolas Sarkozy that France would indefinitely suspend cultivation of GMO corn. In his statement ending a high-profile, two-day summit on the environment, Sarkozy cited doubts about the safety of GMOs, their usefulness, and concerns about uncontrolled dissemination.
Sarkozy ended the summit with a declaration on several major themes addressed there, including GMOs and the precautionary principle: "The truth is that we have doubts about the ability to control the dissemination of GMOs; the truth is that we have doubts about the health and environmental benefits of GMOs. . . Respecting the precautionary principle, I wish to suspend the commercial cultivation of GMOs that produce pesticides."
The French ban will remain in place until a new national authority can be established to review GMOs, based on new criteria to be developed.
Monsanto's genetically engineered corn variety, MON810, which produces the Bt pesticide, is the only GMO currently cultivated in Europe and would be the variety subject to the French ban. It is estimated that over 30,000 acres of GE maize were grown in France in 2007.
"Greenpeace is delighted that the French government has taken sound environmental arguments into account and banned the cultivation of ecologically hazardous genetically engineered (GE) crops. President Sarkozy's announcement today is a victory for French consumers, farmers, and the environment. Greenpeace urges all government to follow the initiative of the French and protect their citizens and the environment from the threats of GE," commented Greenpeace International agriculture campaigner, Doreen Stabinsky.
In Canada, Monsanto's corn variety MON810 has been authorized for use since 1997. Genetically modfied corn covers 820,000 hectares and represents about 50 per cent of all corn cultivated.
"While the French government has taken action in the interests of its citizens, Canada has failed to ratify the international protocol on biosafety or introduce mandatory labelling of GMO products," said Eric Darier, coordinator of Greenpeace Canada's agriculture campaign.
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For more information, please contact:
Eric Darier, Greenpeace Agriculture Coordinator, (514) 605-6497