EFSA opinion rejects French ban on GM corn

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Related tags: Efsa gmo panel, Genetically modified food

The European Foods Safety Authority (EFSA) has rejected French efforts to ban genetically modified corn across member states.

French efforts to ban Monsanto’s genetically modified maize MON810 have been knocked back by EFSA for a second time, after a new scientific opinion from the European regulator (found here) found that French authorities failed to provide "any new science-based evidence indicating that maize MON 810 cultivation in the EU poses a significant and imminent risk​."

The EFSA decision could mean that authorities can force France to lift its ban.

“Following a request of the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority’s Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms (EFSA GMO Panel) evaluated the documentation submitted by France in support of its request for the prohibition of the placing on the market of the genetically modified maize MON 810.”

The EFSA GMO Panel said much of the evidence referred to in the French appeal was already submitted to EFSA as part of the country’s effort to invoke the safeguard clause on the GM maize in in 2008. The panel said such evidence was addressed in the 2008 Scientific Opinion.

“In the remaining documentation provided by France in support of the current emergency measure on maize MON 810, the EFSA GMO Panel could not identify any new science-based evidence indicating that maize MON 810 cultivation in the EU poses a significant and imminent risk to the human and animal health or the environment,”​ said the panel.

“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,”​ EFSA added.

French dispute

In February 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 last November found that the Government had not produced enough evidence to back its claims that the crop posed a risk to health or the environment.

Previous opinion

In 2008 EFSA published its initial positive opinion on MON810. In its report the regulator dismissed French claims that the genetically modified maize product poses a potential risk to health and the environment.

At the time, the GMO Panel concluded that “in terms of risk to human and animal health and the environment, the provided information package does not present new scientific evidence that would invalidate the previous risk assessments of maize MON810”. 

The news that EFSA have once more concluded that Monsanto’s GM crop poses no risk to human health or the environment will come as a blow to recent French efforts to ban the crop.

Last month the European regulator posted its scientific opinion on the Post-Market Environmental Monitoring (PMEM) report for 2010 – concluding that cultivation of the maize MON810 has no adverse effects on human and animal health or the environment.

“From the data submitted by the applicant in its 2010 monitoring report, the EFSA GMO Panel does not identify adverse effects on the environment, human and animal health due to maize MON810 cultivation during the 2010 growing season,”​ said the report. “The outcomes of the 2010 monitoring report do not invalidate the previous EFSA GMO Panel’s scientific opinions on maize MON 810.”

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