Late last week, France announced it was reinstating a ban on the cultivation of a variety of Monsanto corn. The first previous moratorium, established in 2008, was overturned by the country's highest court in November.
Reuters reports that France, the EU's largest grain grower, invoked a "safeguard" clause in establishing the temporary ban, saying it was moving to protect the environment and acting now in order to affect what gets planted this spring.Reuters provides some background on the decision:
France, which holds a presidential election next month and where public opinion is fiercely opposed to genetically modified organisms (GMO), had asked the European Commission last month to suspend the authorization to sow the maize (corn), the only GMO crop allowed for cultivation in the European Union.
The French government's request to the EU Commission was based on "significant risks for the environment" shown in recent scientific studies, it said.
Meanwhile, In the U.S.
This explanation uses the kind of risk assessment that people in the U.S. are looking to apply to American soil, most recently building pressure on Walmart to refuse to stock Monsanto's genetically modified sweet corn—which was created for direct human consumption, a shift from the animal feed and processed foods (albeit most of them) that currently dominate the use of GMO foods.
A coalition of environmental and food safety groups have been pressuring Walmart to take a firm stance against carrying the product.
“Walmart is starting to feel the heat from consumers who don’t want this unlabeled GE corn in their grocery carts, so they are releasing public statements and telling customers that they have no current plans to carry the biotech corn,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, which belongs to the coalition. “But until the retail giant sends a clear message to its supply chain that it will not buy this GE sweet corn, consumers have no way of knowing whether or not Walmart’s corn is GE free."
Center for Food Safety executive director Andrew Kimbrell added, “Grocery companies are the last link in the chain before this corn reaches consumers."