Written Q&A to EU Commission – Suspension of GM MON810 maize cultivation in France

Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 130
Marc Tarabella (S&D)

25th August 2014

Subject:  Suspension of MON 810 genetically modified maize

On 1 August, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued an opinion dismissing the use by the French Government of the safeguard clause to ban the cultivation of MON 810 genetically modified maize in France. The EFSA concluded that, in view of the documents provided by France, there was no specific piece of scientific evidence in terms of risk to human or animal health or the environment that would justify the adoption of an emergency measure in respect of the cultivation of MON 810 genetically modified maize.

In Paris, the General Association of Maize Producers (AGPM), affiliated to the National Federation of Farmers’ Unions (FNSEA), has noted that the European Food Safety Authority has for the third time invalided the government’s argument invoking the risk of serious and irreversible damage to the environment.

1. Does the Commission intend to follow the EFSA’s opinion (given that it has not always done so in the past)?

2. What about the precautionary principle?

3. If the French Government continues to invoke the safeguard clause, might it take enforcement measures?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission – 10th October 2014

1. Under currently applicable legislation, cultivation bans of maize MON 810 enacted by Member States must be justified by evidence demonstrating that the use of this product is likely to constitute a serious risk to health or to the environment (Article 34 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003). The Commission requested EFSA to examine the scientific elements provided by France to justify their MON810 cultivation ban, and EFSA concluded on 31 July 2014 that there is no specific scientific evidence that would support that emergency measure.

2. Provisions such as Article 34 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 constitute an implementation of the precautionary principle into the GMO legislation. Against this background, it should be underlined that the application of the precautionary principle presupposes that, following an assessment of available information, the possibility of harmful effects on health or on the environment is identified, even if scientific uncertainty persists. This possibility has not been confirmed by EFSA in its scientific opinion.

3. The legal developments in France concerning the ban of the cultivation of maize MON 810 illustrate the need to provide in the legislation other ways to give Member States more flexibility in deciding on GMO cultivation on their territory. That is precisely the objective of the Cultivation proposal made by the Commission in 2010 and which is currently in second reading before the European Parliament and the Council.

(Source: European Parliament)

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