Greenpeace urges France to ban GE crops and calls on European governments to follow suit

Press release - October 23, 2007
Greenpeace activists today hung a 12 by 3 metre banner reading “Ban GMO’s NOW” on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris urging the French government to ban genetically modified organisms. The government is expected to decide in the next few days on the future regulation of genetically modified, or genetically engineered, crops.

Greenpeace activists hang a 12 by 3 metre banner reading “Ban GMO’s NOW” on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris urging the French government to ban genetically modified organisms. The government is expected to decide in the next few days on the future regulation of genetically modified, or genetically engineered, crops.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is currently leading France's national environmental dialogue (Grenelle de L'Environnement), which has generated heated discussion around genetically engineered (GE) crops. Recent media reports have quoted Jean-Louis Borloo, the country's environment minister, as being in favour of freezing approval for GE crops in France. (1)

"The French government should join other progressive EU nations in outlawing genetically modified organisms" said Arnaud Apoteker, Genetic Engineering campaigner, Greenpeace France. "GE crops carry unpredictable risks for the environment, public health and the economy", he said.

EU members Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary and Poland have already instituted bans on GE crops. Greenpeace believes that other EU governments, and the European Commission, should follow suit in adopting a strong stance to protect their citizens and the environment.

France's political leaders must acknowledge widespread public rejection of genetically engineered food and resist corporations which are lobbying to water down a total ban on GE crops, according to Greenpeace.

Concern over GE crops has centred on the maize variety MON810, manufactured by US industrial giant Monsanto. MON810 is currently the only GE crop allowed for cultivation in Europe. Scientific studies highlighting adverse impacts of the strain led to the German ministry for consumer protection and food safety writing to Monsanto earlier this year to express "legitimate reasons to assume that the cultivation of MON810 poses a danger for the environment." (2)

Procedures surrounding MON810 are entering a legal quagmire. Monsanto's permit to sell MON 810, issued in 1998, expired on the 17th of October this year. Nonetheless, many countries in the EU intend to continue allowing the maize to be cultivated in 2008 on the basis of the old permit.

"Monsanto's MON810 needs to be banned as matter of urgency," said Geert Ritsema, Greenpeace International GE campaigner. "The French government has an obligation to satisfy public demands on food safety and for a clean environment free of genetically engineered crops."

Letter by German Federal office for consumer protection and food safety to Monsanto Europe S.A., dated 27 April 2007.

Other contacts: Arnaud Apoteker, Greenpeace France GE Campaigner. Tel: +33 (0) 6 07 57 31 60Geert Ritesema, Greenpeace International GE Campaigner. Tel: +31 (0) 6 46197328Omer Elnaiem, Greenpeace International Communications. Tel: +31 (0) 6 1509 3589

VVPR info: John Novis, Greenpeace International Head of Photography. Tel: +31 (0) 653 81 91 21Video footage:Maarten van Rouveroy, Greenpeace International Video Producer. Tel: +31 (0) 6 4619 7322