France upholds ban on Monsanto GM maize
The French government said on Friday it would uphold its ban on a strain of genetically modified maize developed by U.S. biotech firm Monsanto in 2012, even though France's highest court overturned the moratorium last year.
The ecology and agriculture ministers said in a statement they would maintain the ban on MON810, an insect-resistant strain of maize which is sold in several European countries, after meeting with farming groups.
In November, France's highest court overturned the 2008 ban after finding that the government had not produced enough evidence to prove that Monsanto's genetically modified maize posed a significant risk to health or the environment.
The court's decision followed a ruling by the European Court of Justice from early September saying that France had based its ban on the wrong European Union legislation.
President Nicolas Sarkozy, facing a tough battle for re-election in April, had responded by saying that the government would study ways of extending the ban, invoking the need to defend farmers' health.
The brief government statement provided no explanation for the move.
France, the EU's largest grain producer whose citizens are among the staunchest biotech sceptics, imposed the ban after protests by local green groups, citing a "serious risk to the environment".