France’s superiority complex might get on our nerves sometimes (go on, admit it), but this time we can only be happy about the decision taken by the French Agriculture Minister, Stéphane Le Foll, who on Saturday banned the sale, use and cultivation of Mon810. Monsanto’s genetically modified corn is the only transgenic variety currently authorized by the European Union.
Clearly, the French government is taking action to protect the country’s environment, landscape and biodiversity, and consequently the quality of its food production. According to the French (and they are not alone), cultivating Mon810 would be very risky for the environment, and so now the government is trying to establish a new ban after the country’s highest court previously defeated two similar measures.
The government is doing what it can to ensure the effectiveness of the ban, with the decision arriving in time to prevent corn sowing, which starts in France in the second half of March, and before the debating in parliament on April 10 of a draft law which hopes to definitively ban the planting of GMOs within French borders.
France is working to change the direction of the European Union on this issue, and is pushing for the ban to be adopted Europe-wide. The Germans are also doing their part: On March 14, the Bundesrat (Federal Council) put on the agenda requests from five federal states. Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia all requested that the Bundesrat apply a safeguarding clause against the European authorizations on the subject.
In particular, Bavaria requested from the Bundesrat and the relevant commissions “the freedom of choice for member states regarding the cultivation of genetically modified plants.” Mecklenburg-Vorpommern asked that GMO-free production be protected through the members states’ right to choose and Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westfalia want “agriculture free of GMOs” to be safeguarded and “the commercial possibilities of federal states” be strengthened.
The fear (which regards all of Europe) is that 1507 Pioneer will be approved in Brussels after the “non-decision” of the Council in February, when even the German government opted to abstain, provoking tough internal criticism. Now the ball will be back in the Commission’s court.
We have high hopes for the six-month Italian presidency of the European Union, starting in July this year, during which we can work to try to change the current legislation and give member states the possibility to choose if they want to allow GMOs to be grown within their borders or not.