6th Dec 2023

France considers 'freezing' commercialisation of GMOs

The French government is preparing to "freeze the commercialisation" of genetically modified seeds until the adoption of a new law on the issue.

French ecology and development minister Jean-Louis Borloo has "confided" this to a group of parliamentarians from the centre-right majority, Le Monde writes in its Friday (21 September) edition.

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"Everybody agrees" that the dissemination of genetically modified organisms – or GMOs - cannot be controlled, he told the French daily. "Therefore, we will not take the risk", he added.

The decision is not official yet and would not affect laboratory research on GMOs. Mr Borloo hopes to get a "general compromise" on the issue during a French roundtable on environment planned for the end of October.

"The question is not settled", French agriculture minister Michel Barnier confirmed. It will be decided upon by president Nicolas Sarkozy after the environment roundtable, he told AFP.

Mr Borloo said in August that a new law on GMOs would soon be submitted to the French parliament, and that an independent body would be established to evaluate the risks carried by genetically modified organisms.

France has been looking into GMOs for some time and its experts have been raising concerns on how to control the contamination of non-GMO fields by genetically modified cultures, regardless of the security zone between them.

The European Commission declined to give a specific comment on France's intention before having studied the move more closely.

But it said that "normally, it is not possible under European legislation to have a general banning of GMOs".

Brussels has authorised some GMOs in the EU which must then be allowed to freely circulate under the bloc's free movement of goods principle.

Recent surveys have shown that around 70% of Europeans are against GMOs.

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