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Genetically Modified Corn Moratorium Lifted By France's Council Of State

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PARIS — France's highest administrative body has annulled rules suspending the planting of genetically modified corn, but two key ministries quickly said the government is still looking for ways to block such crops.

The Council of State, acting on a complaint from U.S.-based agricultural company Monsanto and other interested parties, on Monday annulled two Agriculture Ministry rulings from 2007 and 2008 that suspended the planting of Monsanto MON 810 modified corn.

Monday's ruling cited a failure to establish not only the urgency of suspending genetically modified corn but also the existence of a health risk to humans, animals or the environment.

The Agriculture and Ecology ministries "took note" of the decision, but voiced continued opposition to having GMOs on French soil because of what the agencies said were dangling questions about their environmental impact.

"These persistent uncertainties lead the government to maintain its opposition to cultivating MON 810 corn on French territory," the statement said. The government "is studying, as of now, the means to attain this objective."

France is the European Union's agricultural powerhouse and opposition to GMOs is traditionally strong here.

Others also criticized Monday's ruling.

EU lawmaker Corinne Lepage, former French environment minister, said she "deplores" the decision, contending that it reduces any room for maneuver nations have on the GMO issue. She wants European laws to be adapted to give countries a "solid juridical basis to ban GMO cultivation."

For Greenpeace "judicial procedures must not mask the true fundamental problem."

Monsanto has said its engineered MON 810 corn seed has been approved as safe for human consumption and been used commercially around the world for 15 years.

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