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AGRICULTURE & PLANTS: French GMO area may keep rising sharply - growers







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TITLE:  FRENCH GMO AREA MAY KEEP RISING SHARPLY - GROWERS

SOURCE: Reuters

AUTHOR: Sybille de La Hamaide

URL:    http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/43181/story.htm

DATE:   20.07.2007

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


FRENCH GMO AREA MAY KEEP RISING SHARPLY - GROWERS

PARIS - The French area sown with genetically modified maize could continue increasing fourfold annually because it resists insect attacks and boosts yields, growers said on Thursday.

Maiz’Europe, the association gathering maize producers and scientists, said French farmers had sown over 21,000 hectares with GMO maize this season, just above the ministry estimate of 20,000 hectares and four times the area sown in 2006.

That compared to a total grain maize area of 1.4 million hectares in France this season.

”If GMO maize allows higher yields, that’s exactly what farmers are looking for,” Christophe Terrain, head of of the French maize growers group AGPM, part of Maiz’Europ, told a news conference. ”There is enourmous demand by farmers for it.”

However, Terrain said that growth could be limited in France consumers’ refusal of the new technology.

”The only limit is the market. In the southwestern part where GMO maize is mostly grown it’s not a problem because Spain imports it all but elsewhere it would be harder,” he said.

 

FARMERS FEAR CROP VANDALISM

US biotech giant Monsanto which produces the MON 810 maize -- the only biotech crop allowed in the country -- said last month it expected Europe to increase its GMO crop area by 50,000-100,000 hectares a year over the next decade, from 100,000 ha in 2007.

In France, Monsanto expects GMO maize to be grown on 600,000 hectares in 10 years, despite fierce opposition to GMOs crops sometimes called ”Frankenstein foods”.

Seed makers say that GMOs are perfectly safe.

Maiz’Europe Director General, Luc Esprit, said he expected activists to continue destroying French GMO fields, but on a lower scale following severe court sentences.

”Our feeling is that uprooting will continue but unlikely in public,” he said.

Three farmers’ GMO fields have already been attacked in France this season but Esprit said the area hit remained small.

Last year around 20 hectares were attacked out of a total of 5,200 sown with GMO maize.

However, he stressed that if the government did not help GMO growers protect their fields, there could be a serious incident.


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