Activists Get Their Way in France

In Biotechnology, Farming, International, Trade by Cindy

Yield Gard BtWhen European activist wackos act like spoiled children, they get their way.

That’s basically what happened when French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a “political” decision this week to ban the only genetically modified crop grown in France, Monsanto 810 – better known here as YieldGard Corn Borer. The variety produces a naturally occurring toxin, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), that kills corn borers.

Sarkozy“It does not mean that France does not participate in GMO research,” Sarkozy said. “It simply means that with the principle of precaution at stake, I am making a major political decision to carry our country to the forefront of the debate on the environment.”

Credit for the decision can be given, at least in part, to a high-profile activist who went on a hunger strike January 3 to demand a year-long ban on GMO crops. Anti-globalization activist and farmer Jose Bove has been on a rampage against GMOs, and even “been convicted of ripping up GM crops in southern France.” Sounds like a spoiled kid to me.

French CornThe decision was welcomed by Greenpeace activists, more spoiled children who in March dumped a ton of GMO corn at the door of Sarkozy’s campaign headquarters in Paris. (Question: Where did they get it? Did they grow it themselves, buy it – or rip it up out of someone’s field?)

During the campaign last year, Sarkozy’s opponents both said they would back a moratorium on GMO corn, while Sarkozy said he was “skeptical about the real benefits of GMOs” but that open-field crop trials should continue for research purposes, to keep open the option of using GM crops “once all safety conditions have been met.”

This week, after a controversial report that indicated a few scientists thought MON810 might have a negative impact on wildlife, Sarkozy enacted the ban by invoking “a safeguard clause” which allows a member state of the EU to refuse the sale of a product permitted across the 27-nation bloc.

french whackoGreen Party French farmers like Bove (pictured on the right in the media spotlight) are pleased and eating again, but the head of the country’s largest farmers union called the announcement “surprising and shocking. The decision was very political to please a number of people including some on a hunger strike.”

Last year, Monsanto’s 810 corn made up less than one percent of all the corn grown in France. The president of AGPM, a French association of corn growers, said that France can survive without GMOs, “but it means we will protect our crops solely by chemical means and take the risk of depending on more imports in the future.”

Meanwhile, Monsanto will consider all of its options, including legal remedies. Monsanto spokesman Jonathan Ramsay said, “Monsanto will defend our customers’ right to choose.” So, it’s not over yet, but it still sends a message to wackos that hunger strikes, tearing up crops and dumping corn on the street gets them their way.

(Sources: Truth about Trade & Technology, and AFP)