GM crop debate in France leads company to drop field tests

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The study published in France last month that raised questions about the impact of genetically modified crops on rats has raised tensions in the country. As a result, the world’s fourth largest seed group has decided to postpone its planned field tests of GM crops next year.

Vilmorin had planned to conduct open air field tests in France next spring.

“The political climate led us to put the question on hold for now,” Daniel Jacquemon, Vilmorin’s finance director, told Reuters. “We don’t want to be provocative.”

Vilmorin did not mention the French study on rats in its statement, however, the company stressed that GM crops were important to support. In the past, Vilmorin, controlled by French farm cooperative Limagrain, had conducted open-field tests of GM plants. It stopped the tests after protestors ransacked the test sites.

The company had invested in research in France for GM crops, to the tune of $51.6 million and opened three new laboratories.

Despite the volatility in France, the company is continuing with field tests in other European countries, including Spain. The company also announced it was seeding to expand its international presence by acquiring other smaller companies in the coming months. One is in Brazil the other is in Asia.

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