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EFSA rejects French move to ban GM crop in Europe

By Nathan Gray+

04-Aug-2014
Last updated on 08-Aug-2014 at 09:53 GMT

EFSA has said its previous assessment conclusions on MON810 safety
EFSA has said its previous assessment conclusions on MON810 safety "remain valid and applicable."

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has said French documentation supporting the country's attempt to ban Monsanto's MON810 genetically modified maize in Europe contains no new information or scientific basis to support such a ban.

The EFSA report concludes that the documentation provided by French authorities to support an application for an emergency measure under Article 34 of Regulation (EC) 1829/2003, which would block the cultivation of genetically modified maize MON 810 in the EU, contained no new information which would lead to a change in opinion from a previously issued by the European science agency.

Indeed, in its evaluation of the French Authorities’ report the EFSA statement noted that most of the cited scientific publications were addressed previously by EFSA and its GMO Panel 'in various scientific outputs.' As a result, such publications were not considered further.

For the remaining scientific publications, EFSA said that it focused an assessment on aspects that are relevant to maize MON 810, concluding that there is no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment, that would support the adoption of an emergency measure on the cultivation of maize MON 810 under Article 34 of Regulation (EC) 1829/2003.

"Neither the scientific publications cited in the French Authorities’ report with relevance to maize MON 810 nor the arguments put forward by France reveal any new information that would invalidate the previous risk assessment conclusions and risk management recommendations made by the EFSA GMO Panel," said EFSA.

"Therefore, EFSA considers that the previous GMO Panel risk assessment conclusions and risk management recommendations on maize MON 810 remain valid and applicable."

'Emergency  measures'

Last year the French Government called on the European Commission  to ban the insect-resistant strain of maize – urging the European regulator to overturn the authorisation for the use of the maize crop. At the time, the French ministry of environment and sustainable development argued that results of recent scientific research do show that GM product has health and environmental risks.

The dispute began with France’s 2008 ban of MON810 – otherwise known as YieldGuard – which was put in place after the government ruled the GM maize was a “serious risk to the environment.” However, a court ruling in 2012 found that the government had not produced enough evidence to back its claims that the crop posed a risk to health or the environment.

Despite several EFSA scientific opinions affirming the safety of MON810, several EU Member States including Italy , France and Poland have invoked a safeguard clause or emergency measures to provisionally restrict or block the marketing of the genetically modified crop on their territory.

"For all cases for which the EFSA GMO Panel or EFSA has been asked by the European Commission to evaluate whether the invocation was justifiable on the basis of the scientific information submitted in support of a safeguard clause or emergency measures, the EFSA GMO Panel or EFSA concluded that, in terms of risk to human and animal health and the environment, no new scientific evidence had been presented that would invalidate its previous risk assessment conclusions on maize MON 810," said EFSA in its most recent rebuff of the evidence from French authorities.

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