The news of the French decision to ban a genetically modified variety of corn has been unfolding in the last two issues of CropLife eNews. Now Monsanto Co. chimes in.
U.S. biotech company Monsanto said on Thursday, Jan. 31, that France’s decision was illegal and would be harmful to the sector, according to a Reuters article.
France said last month it would activate a "safeguard clause" in European law to suspend the use of Monsanto’s MON 810 technology on the grounds that doubts remained on whether the cultivation of the corn was safe for the environment.
"Such a totally illegal measure, be it in law or in facts, would be severely and immediately harmful not only to Monsanto to but also to all the other actors of this sector," the company said in a letter addressed to the agriculture ministry. "Monsanto wants to raise the French government’s attention to the heavy responsibility that (it) would face if it activated the safeguard clause in these circumstances."
According to the Reuters report, France ‘s move was based on a study by a government-appointed committee saying it had uncovered new elements questioning the safe use of the MON 810 corn, an essential argument to justify the banning of a product authorized in the European Union.
Monsanto said the committee had not turned up any scientific proof which had not already been reviewed by the EU, which had authorized use of MON 810 throughout the 27-nation bloc in 1998.
If France activates the safeguard clause to ban the MON 810 technology, also used by other seed makers in France, it will need to give proof of new scientific evidence against it, which Monsanto says does not exist.
It will then be up to the European Union to say whether the move is justified. The EU itself is set to re-evaluate Monsanto’s MON 810 corn this year and decide whether it can continue to be used safely in the 27-nation bloc.