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France - GM crops

Opposition in France

by Marco Chown Oved

Article published on the 2008-04-09 Latest update 2008-04-09 15:06 TU

GMO crops in France

GMO crops in France

GM crops have met vigorous opposition in France. A documentary recently aired on French television has added to the controversy with allegations against Monsanto, the world leader in genetically modified agricultural products.

In The world according to Monsanto, French journalist Marie-Monique Robin alleges that the corporation is willing to do anything to protect its profits, including ignoring proven health and environmental risks.

Her sentiments are echoed by a vocal minority of environmentalists and farmers, represented for many by José Bové. Bové is a colourful political figure who came to fame with a series of high-profile anti-GM protests, including destroying a McDonalds restaurant and ripping genetically modified crops from fields.

But Bové, who ran for president last year, has been surprisingly silent as the law is being debated.

He showed up to protest outside the National Assembly with about 100 supporters, before entering to witness the debates from the public gallery.

Members of the Socialist opposition claimed the new law is a betrayal of the principles outlined at the Environmental Roundtable. They point to a new clause that promises the ‘liberty to consume and to produce with or without genetically modified organisms”.

The government rejected an amendment propising an amnesty for 58 activists facing trial for destroying genetically modified crops in nearby Chartres and has introduced a resolution that would explicitly define crop destruction as a crime.

And it claims that its law will uphold the ideals set out in October. “France is in the process of putting into place the most precautionary GM measures in the world,” Sustainable Development Minister Jean-Louis Borloo told Canal+ television.