So much for the vision of a GMO-free Europe: Following Monsanto’s announcement that it would no longer seek approval to grow new crops in the EU, France’s Council of State court overturned a ban the government placed on the company’s MON 810 corn in 2012.
Unlike the Roundup-resistant corn that’s so commonly planted in the United States, MON 810 is designed to excrete a toxin that’s poisonous to insects. So if any European corn borers take a bite out of stalk or ear, they die. The variety was approved for commercial planting in Europe back in 1998, but France and five other countries—Austria, Hungary, Greece, Luxembourg and Germany—enacted their own bans.
The ruling, issued by France’s highest administrative court, says that “such a measure could only be imposed in an emergency or if there was a serious health or environmental risk.” And while some highly disputed studies have tied MON 810 to health risks, the fact remains that there’s no solid science to support the thinking that GMO crops are a threat to the well-being of those who consume them.
France’s Socialist president Francois Hollande tells Agence France-Presse that the ban was enacted “not because we refuse progress, but in the name of progress,” and that it would remain in place despite the court’s ruling. He plans to “secure this decision legally, at a national level and especially at a European level.” In other words, Hollande’s hope is for the dream of a GMO-free Europe to become a EU-wide reality.
Championing progress in light of the ruling is the approach Monsanto took too. In a statement that notes the company was not involved in the lawsuit, it says, “we’re pleased with the court’s ruling supporting a science- and evidence-based approach to GM crop policy.”