EU challenges France on GM Maize

The European Union (EU) is again challenging France’s decision to ban a genetically modified (GM) maize developed by the U.S.-based biotech giant Monsanto. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is angry that France has refused to allow the cultivation of MON 810, the only GM crop being grown in the European Union.

“No specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health and the environment, was provided that would justify the invocation of a safeguard clause,” EFSA said in an opinion article on its web site.

These are weighty words, coming especially from such a nonpartisan organization as EFSA. They’re words directed not only at France but other European countries weighing on the issue of genetically modified crops.

The issue of the safety of GM foods has been discussed since the introduction of the first genetically modified crop in 1996. Reputable organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S. National Academies of Science have issued numerous reports on the safety of GM foods. In June 2005, for instance, WHO released a report entitled Modern Food Biotechnology, Human Health and Development, which reaffirmed the safety of GM foods. The U.S. National Academies of Science, itself, has on numerous occasions cautioned against condemning GM crops on the basis of non-scientific evidence.

France and other countries opposed to crop genetic engineering will do their citizens proud if they allow science to guide every decision of GM crops. Blanket condemnation of GM crops doesn’t serve the interests of farmers. It only denies them an opportunity to boost food production.

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