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France bans Monsanto’s genetically modified corn

{ pranav }

MAY has been a big month on the transgenic front.

As China looks the other way and continues rising in this area, Greenpeace has launched a new app which allows consumers to identify whether food they buy contains genetically modified produce or not. Conversely, Brazil’s ruralist lobby has dropped the need for food packaging to identify use of such grain. But it is France’s stance against Monsanto that brings the theme back to centre stage.

Last month, a new bill by the European Commission established that each country should independently decide whether the use of genetically modified grain for both human and animal consumption should be allowed or restricted – causing discontent among US representatives at the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership meeting, in New York. Critics have pointed out that Monsanto owns 70 – 100 per cent market share in genetically modified seeds of some species. When it comes to food and agriculture, biotechnology is a powerful ally. However, such concentration should, indeed, raise red flags and justify sanctions. In 2014, when a drop in earnings of 6 per cent was announced, its stock “soared by more than 5 per cent”, Forbes  reported. The magazine also forecasts it shall boast double of its current profits by 2019.

Now it is France that has made up its mind against the use of corn MON810, the only genetically modified grain used in the European Union. Restrictions began in 2008, when Romania – Europe’s main cornfield – blocked its use. Since then, Hungary, Italy, Austria, Greece, Switzerland and Poland also banned the seed. To the dismay of environmentalists, the measure deceives those who think that the decision is linked to environmental issues.

As stated by the company itself: “The bans result from political decisions, contrary to the scientific evidence and against the existing European market approval”.

While left-wing senators of the Socialist (government), Green and Communist parties overpowered opposition from the far-right members with purely financial reasoning. By arguing that only a fraction of French-cultivated corn uses genetically modified seeds, they ran aground declarations that a financial crisis was to be faced by the Association of Corn Products (AGPM). The discussion has also taken a further political turn as France wants to completely isolate Brussels from such topics, keeping authorisations completely at national level.

Words by Scheila Farias Silveira

Picture by { pranav }

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