Days after France attempted to ban a genetically-modified strain of maize created by the controversial agricultural company Monsanto, based in St. Louis, Mo., the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) rejected France's grounds for banning the maize on Monday, even though France believes the corn is harmful to the environment.
Based on the documentation submitted by France, there is no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment, the EFSA said on its website.
Monsanto's maize, known as MON 810 or its trade name YieldGard, was introduced in 1997 as corn with naturally-occurring soil bacteria inserted into its DNA structure that could better resist insects, as the pests simply can't digest the protein produced by the bacterium. But while the GM maize can keep stalk borers away, some experts believe the crop can be harmful to plants and other animals. The EFSA, however, rejected France's ban on the crop, citing a lack of evidence.
[Europe's health commissioner John Dalli] will consider how to follow up on this ruling, though technically we could ask France to raise its ban [on MON 810], said Frederic Vincent, a spokesman for Dalli. The commission will wait for the conclusions of the next environment ministers' meeting June 11 in Luxembourg and hopes for a positive outcome to its proposals for cultivation, which have been blocked for almost two years by France and others.
This is not France's first battle with Monsanto's genetically-modified maize: In 2008, the country banned the MON 810 strain after public protests, but even though a French court overturned the ban in November, citing that the government failed to prove that Monsanto's crops present a particularly elevated level of risk to either human health or the environment, the French government reinstated the ban again anyway this March. The ban has been supported by France's agricultural minister, Bruno Le Maire.
Besides the government's attempts to cut off Monsanto's maize from France, protesters both in the U.S. and abroad are speaking out against the billion-dollar biotech corporation. In March, thousands of people marched the streets of Washington, D.C., dressed in hazmat suits, and called themselves Occupy Monsanto. The protesters believed Monsanto was helping to bankrupt small-time farms across America by chemically-engineering and genetically-modifying seeds that made it not only unnatural, but anti-competitive. Protesters also disapproved of the way Monsanto allegedly poured out millions of dollars to have firms lobby on its behalf.
In the name of Wall Street profits, chemical corporations such as Monsanto genetically engineer crops to withstand high doses of their toxic weed killers that contaminate our food and water, and have not been proven safe, said Ariel Vegosen, a member of Occupy Monsanto, in March. We deserve to know what we are eating. Virtually every major country requires labeling of GMOs in foods so their citizens can make informed choices, including all of Europe, Japan and even China. Monsanto's lobbying dollars are pouring into politicians so it's clear we have a GMO contaminated US Congress that threatens our health and the health of the planet.
Occupy Monsanto also coordinated simultaneous protests in Seattle, Los Angeles, Winnipeg, and Dusseldorf, and hopes to launch its next round of protests on Sept. 17, 2012. Occupy Monsanto hopes to specifically occupy Monsanto's scattered facilities around the world on that day.