A ban on planting genetically modified crops in France was annulled last week, shocking a nation that prides itself on being known as the world’s gourmand with a focus on fresh and whole foods. The decision to overturn the ban came as the government cited a failure in being able to establish the reason for the rushed initial ruling and the lack of any conclusive scientific evidence that genetically modified foods pose human health or environmental risks.
The decision reportedly came via pressure from Monsanto, the St. Louis, Missouri-based company and the world’s leading manufacturer of genetically modified seeds and companion pesticide, the glyphosate-based Roundup, eager to take a bite of the European agricultural market. Rulings issued by France’s Agriculture Ministry in 2007 and 2008 banned the planting of Monsanto’s MON 810 corn. France has been the notable EU member country most vocal in its opposition to GMOs, but most other countries have also instituted bans and require labeling of any (imported) food that contains GMO ingredients.
In late 2010, Wikileaks, the controversial website that publishes and comments on leaked documents alleging government and corporate misconduct, revealed high level pressure by U.S. officials including the U.S. ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton, was put on EU member countries including France to allow for the commercial interest of the biotech industry.
While the highest administrative body in France overturned the ban on GMOs, two of the nation’s key ministries said that the government is still exploring preventative measures in blocking the proliferation of the controversial seeds including Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetically modified corn.
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