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French court orders government to scrap Monsanto corn ban

Monsanto's MON 810 sweetcorn
Monsanto's MON 810 sweetcorn

France's top administrative court on Thursday threw out a government ban on US agro-chemicals giant Monsanto growing the genetically modified maize, MON810. The government says it will try to find a new way of maintaining the ban.

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A moratorium on MON810 corn, one of just two types of genetically altered
food crops whose cultivation is approved by the European Union, has been in
place in France
since March 2012.

But on Thursday the Council of State court declared that it had little legal basis.

EU regulations say such a ban "can only be taken by a member state in case of an emergency or if a situation poses a major risk" to the health of people or animals, or to the environment, it said in a statement.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll and Ecology Minister Philippe Martin immediately declared that they would order civil servants to find a legally viable way of maintaining the ban.

Earlier Le Foll had declared that the government "is not in favour of GM, especially MON810 which is a corn that is resistant to herbicides".

A fresh decision on MON810 will be made before farmers next start to sow seeds in April 2014, the statement said.

Brussels cleared MON810 in 1998 for 10 years and Monsanto submitted a request in 2007 for it to be extended but the process has been effectively frozen since then.

MON810 is still grown on a small scale, notably in Spain and Portugal, where governments have been more welcoming than other member states.

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