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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Report following the French public debate on GMO and field trials
SOURCE: summary by BioScope, Switzerland
        http://www.bio-scope.org/disp_doc.cfm?id=CE12CBC270B941F99FA5677
        6AC65814E
DATE:   July 2002

------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
   The discussion revealed that up to now, GMP cultivated in France did
   not show any benefit for the consumers, and made quite clear that this
   is not expected for the near future. To french consumers, GMPs are
   strongly suspicious, and thus they call for labelling and traceability.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------


Report following the French public debate on GMO and field trials

Ministre Franais de l'agriculture et de la pche

Barbusiaux C; Le Deaut JY; Sicart D ; Testart J

Abstract: Report following the French public debate on GMO and field trials

According to this report, French citizens do not want to stop research on 
genetically modified plants or field trials, they want the respect of the 
precautionary principle and to be more involved in the decisions.

Report following the French public debate on GMO and field trials

French ministries of Agriculture, Environment, Research, Health and 
Consumer organized a two days public debate on genetically modified plants 
(PGM) and field trials in order to answer to these questions:
What objectives does the society connect with PGM research?
Why do we need field trials?
How should the potential benefits and problems related to transgenic plants 
be evaluated?
How could we improve both public participation and public information?
How to improve the consideration of the public perception in decision-
making processes?

In its first part, the report explains the debate organisation and 
sequence. Some preliminary documents <http://www.agriculture.gouv.fr/OGM/
debatpublic/debpublic_com.htm> are available at the internet: an inventory 
of fixtures written by the Ministry of Agriculture, a report written by the 
"Commission du genie Biomoleculaire" (CGB) and the "Comite de 
Biovigilance", as well as the proceedings of a scientific meeting organised 
by the AFSAA on December 17-18, 2001, (on Bio-Scope, in French, click here).

Six round tables were organised (is this correct? It's just to bring the 
reader back to the starting point). Three focussed on field trials
(Do we need field trials?
Why?
How are field trials organized, and what are the (expected) results?
How are decisions on field trials made, and how are these trials 
controlled?)
and the remaining three concentrated on general problems
(What are the benefits and the inconveniences of GM plants in terms of 
health and environment?
What are the socio-economic consequences of research on GMP and their 
development?
What are the expectations of the French society?
What about public participation and democratic regulation of decision 
processes?)

Following, the key elements of the answers brought by this debate are 
summarized:

The discussion revealed that up to now, GMP cultivated in France did not 
show any benefit for the consumers, and made quite clear that this is not 
expected for the near future. To french consumers, GMPs are strongly 
suspicious, and thus they call for labelling and traceability.

The debate revealed that within in some stakeholder groups (e.g. scientists 
or farmers) there are different opinions on GMP, while some others (e.g. 
consumer associations) are in complete agreement. The public is concerned 
e.g. upon possible negative effects of GMP on environment and health, and 
has some doubts, e.g. whether there will be any economic benefits of 
transgenesis. A quasi-consensus among all parties involved in the debate 
exists on the need for public information. This means free access to data 
and information concerning the authorised field trials and the pending 
authorisations so that people are in a position to make up their own mind 
about GMP. During the debate the lack of transparency was recurrent. 

The public fears about the global dimension of possibly negative impacts of 
GMP, as they are already released and applied in large amounts worldwide. 
These fears are not specifically linked to the existence of potential - but 
not yet demonstrated - sanitary risks. It is more generally a confidence 
crisis towards national and international authorities due to recent food 
and/or agricultural scandals like BSE that lead the public to doubt about 
innovations, the conditions of their use, and the realization of necessary 
safety provisions when applicating them.

Another two opposite fears were pointed out during the public debate: they 
link up with the loss of research on GMP in France on the one side, and 
simultaneously with type of research done in France that is suspected to 
have potential negative impacts. This is of special importance, as gaps in 
the French authorization system have been identified (public information, 
protection of organic farmers, study of environmental impacts in long-term 
trials, control and exact characterisation of the transformation process 
and the inserted DNA sequence, respectively). Studies and assessments both 
on benefits and disadvantages of GMP should be promoted in an easy to 
understand way.

In France, the authorisation process for GMP culture is too centralized, 
public wants it to be canvassed. Four ways were suggested:
- Provide a follow up to the public debates and citizen conferences,
- Define the character "socially acceptable" (e.g. what can be or not 
accepted from the social point of view) of a GMP,
- The conditions of experiments involving transgenic plants and their 
dissemination shall be democratically controlled, and
- the mayor's prerogatives should be reinforced.

The scientific expertise in given research projects should be improved by 
broadening the scientific subject allowing a multidisciplinary approach. 
This should also contribute to ensure the independence of the experts, thus 
changing the existing system. The transparency of decisions and expertises 
is considered to be of high importance for true involvement of the public. 

The public applies for the installation of a more strict regulative 
procedure on genetically modified plants by the CGB to make sure that as 
much information as possible has been gained from the confined experiments.

The French citizens accept difficulties and accidental contaminations, as 
they are perceived as a potential risk. However, the authorities are in 
duty to take this reticence into account and to take appropriate measures 
to limit such accidental contaminations and protect organic farming.

The debate participants also point out the problem of responsibility in 
cases of negative effects of genetically engineered plants and ask for 
setting up an insurance system for field trials with such plants.

In conclusion, French public do not want to stop the research on transgenic 
plants but demand researchers and authorities to respect the precautionary 
principle. Field trials should be allowed.

Published in March 2002.

The full text report is available in French (PDF file, 297Kb).

Barbusiaux C, Le Deaut JY, Sicart D and Testart J (2002) Rapport a la suite 
du debat sur les OGM et les essais au champ. Ministere Francais de 
l'agriculture et de la peche.


                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  French government gives green light for new GMO field trials
SOURCE: Le Parisien, France, by E. Giacometti
        translated and posted at BioScope, Switzerland
        http://www.bio-scope.org/disp_doc.cfm?id=2A2D69E3E476495987364BD87
        DDE9CC3
DATE:   July 16, 2002

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Abstract: French government gives green light for new GMO field trials
(Des cultures d'OGM ˆ nouveau autorisŽes)

The French Minister of Agriculture, Herve Gaymard, and the Minister of 
Environment, Roselyne Bachelot, on July 4th authorised eight new field 
testing with transgenic corn, maize and tobacco in requested by Biogemma, 
Bayer Crop Science France, Pioneer genetique and AGPM Technique. This 
decision is in contrast to statements of the former leftist government, 
which recommended the organisation of a citizen's conference and a 
parliamentary debate before conducting new field trials. 



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