France Bans Growing of Genetically Modified Monsanto Corn

France will temporarily ban the growing of Monsanto Co. (MON)’s genetically modified corn MON810 ahead of guidance by European regulators on the crop’s safety, the agriculture and environment ministries said.

The ban will come into force on March 18 after the European Commission, the European Union’s regulatory arm, told France it didn’t plan immediate measures against the Monsanto corn, the ministries wrote in a joint e-mailed statement today.

France last month asked the EU to suspend approval for MON810, citing recent scientific studies that show growing the corn variety poses “important risks” to the environment. The commission told France it has consulted the European Food Safety Authority and doesn’t plan any urgent measure ahead of the opinion, the ministries wrote.

“Because of the proximity of the planting period, the Agriculture Ministry has decided today to take a precautionary measure that means to temporarily prohibit the cultivation of the corn MON810 on the national territory in order to protect the environment,” according to the statement.

France is the European Union’s largest corn grower, data from the bloc show. Last year, French farmers planted corn on 1.55 million hectares (3.8 million acres), producing 15.5 million metric tons of the grain, according to crop office FranceAgriMer.

Monsanto’s MON810 is a so-called Bt corn that includes a genetic modification that makes the plant toxic to insect pests including the European corn borer.

“The new ban is not justified by scientific evidence,” John Combest, a spokesman for Monsanto, said in a e-mail today. The company does not market MON810 in France because “we seek planting where we have broad farmer and government support,” Combest said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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