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France, Germany want right to ban GMOs after EU maize vote

French anti-GMO campaigners protest in Paris
French anti-GMO campaigners protest in Paris Charles Platiau/Reuters

France and Germany are to propose a new European law to allow member states to ban Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) even if their cultivation is authorised by the European Union. This week the EU's Council of Ministers voted to authorise the cultivation of TC1507 maize, despite the opposition of 19 countries, including France.

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The plan for the new law was announced by French Agriculture Minister Stéphane Le Foll on Thursday after the news of the EU vote came through.

Thanks to abstentions by Germany, Belgium, Portugal and the Czech Republic, opponents of TC1507, which has been developed by the US's Pioneer corporation, failed to muster the necessary votes to block the move and the European Commission has announced that it is legally obliged to endorse it.

Spain, the UK, Sweden, Finland and Estonia voted in favour.

The European parliament had already voted against by 385 to 201 with 35 abstentions.

Lylian Le Goff, a member of the environmental organisation France Nature Environnement, welcomed Le Foll's announcement.

"We’ve been calling for this for years, and the announcement is a step in the right direction," he told RFI. "We encourage the minister to stand firm on this issue and to be a convincing spokesperson at the European level and also in Germany. If Germany agrees with France on GMOs, then there is hope that Europe welcome its view, as well."

Four GMOs are authorised in the EU but only one of them is currently being cultivated, Monsanto's MON810.

LE Foll on Thursday that the government is to rush through a law banning the MON810 and TC1507 with a debate in the Senate starting on Monday.

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