France Drops Monsanto Challenge

Source – Wall Street Journal

By Inti Landauro

Date – Oct 22, 2012

Website – online.wsj.com

PARIS—The French government said Monday that it had no reason to challenge Monsanto Co.’s license to sell a genetically modified corn in the European Union after the country’s food-safety agency ruled that a study linking the crop to cancers in rats was flawed and inconclusive.

A month ago, the French government had said it would seek an immediate ban on EU imports of the corn made by the St. Louis-based chemicals giant, and known as the NK603, if the study conducted by the French university of Caen was deemed of scientific value.

But French food-safety agency ANSES said Monday that the study failed to provide scientific evidence to support its claim that rats fed for two years on the NK603 corn had developed more tumors and other severe diseases than a control group fed regular corn.

“The conclusions reached by the authors are insufficiently backed by data,” ANSES director Marc Mortureux said. The agency said the number of rats included in the study was too small to make any finding statistically significant.

The French government said would follow ANSES’s conclusions regarding the study but added that it would commission new research on the long-term impact on animals and humans of genetically modified crops.

Monsanto officials reiterated they didn’t believe the study presented any information that justified any change on the approval of NK603 imports or the views on the safety of the genetically modified products.

Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, the author of the study, said he stood by the results of his two-year research.

The NK603 corn is widely used in countries such as the U.S. and Brazil and the EU has authorized its imports, though not its cultivation.

France has been locked into a fight with its EU partners over another genetically modified corn made by Monsanto. French authorities have been blocking the use of the MON810 variety, which is allowed in the rest of the EU, even though the Conseil d’Etat, France’s top administrative court, ordered the French ban to be lifted.

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