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France not ready to end ban on new gene crops

(Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2002 -- CropChoice news) --

Reuters: France on Tuesday repeated it would oppose any removal of an effective European Union ban on developing new genetically modified crop strains until precise labelling rules for GM products come into effect, which could take several months.

"France will not change its position on the moratorium as long as regulations on labelling and traceability have not come into force," a spokeswoman for the French environment ministry told Reuters.

For more than three years, EU farmers have been unable to grow or sell most of the GM crops commonly used in the United States after a blocking minority of member states, led by France, opposed any new permits pending tougher regulations.

EU environment ministers are due to meet in Luxembourg on Thursday to discuss the regulations, which are expected to compel food producers to clearly indicate, above a certain threshold still to be decided, whether foodstuffs contain GM organisms.

If the EU environment ministers reach a deal this week, the new labelling rules could be implemented very quickly, paving the way for an end to the moratorium.

But French Farm Minister Herve Gaymard said on Monday it could take another year to reach a satisfactory labelling deal.

More than 15 groups of anti-GM campaigners, including Greenpeace and radical farmer Jose Bove's Confederation Paysanne, have called for a demonstration at the environment ministry in Paris on Tuesday at 1600 GMT.

"Keeping the moratorium is necessary as long as the problems raised by GMOs to organic and conventional farmers are not taken into account," they said in a statement.