[FR] New legislation in France defines rules for co-existence

France has adopted two decrees which regulate the release of genetically modified organisms into the environment. The new legislation includes specific rules for the co-existence of GM cultivation and conventional agriculture, such as the requirement of isolation distances of 50 metres between GM plants and conventional fields.

Farmers also must provide details of their GM cultivation. These details will be collected to enable France to develop a national site register. However, the precise location of GM cultivation sites will remain confidential in the register, in order to protect farmers from having their fields damaged by protesters opposing GMOs.

With these new decrees, and by bringing its legislation in line with the European directive 2001/18/EC, France hopes to end a legal conflict with the European Court of Justice. This highest European court had been asked last year by the European Commission to fine France for not implementing the directive on the release of GMOs. The court set daily fines, which meanwhile have accumulated to dues of more than 42 million euros.

In respect of GM crops, French consumers are highly sceptical. The country has, as the other EU countries, approved MON810 maize as the single GM crop to be cultivated on a commercial scale. Since then, MON810 only has amounted to a minor proportion of all cultivation in France (ca 5,000 hectares in 2006).


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