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POLICY & REGULATION: EUís top court fines France for incomplete GMO law






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TITLE:  EU?S TOP COURT FINES FRANCE FOR INCOMPLETE GMO LAW

SOURCE: The Guardian, UK

AUTHOR: Reuters, UK, by Jeremy Smith

URL:    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/feedarticle/8135344

DATE:   09.12.2008

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EU?S TOP COURT FINES FRANCE FOR INCOMPLETE GMO LAW

BRUSSELS, Dec 9 (Reuters) - The European Union?s highest court fined France 10 million euros ($12.9 million) on Tuesday for failing to update the country?s laws on genetically modified (GM) crops and foods.

In a statement, the European Court of Justice said the ?unlawful conduct repeatedly engaged in by France in the GMOs sector is of such a nature as to require the adoption of a dissuasive measure, such as a lump sum payment?.

?Due to the circumstances of this case, the lump sum to be paid is set at 10 million euros,? the Luxembourg-based court said.

In June, one of the court?s advocates-general said in an opinion on the case that Paris had failed to comply with a 2004 ruling that its statute book did not properly integrate an EU directive on releasing GM organisms into the environment.

The date for assessing whether France had complied with the 2004 ruling was February 2006, the ECJ said, adding: ?It is obvious that, by that date, with the exception of a decree, France had not taken any steps to comply with the initial 2004 judgment establishing its failure to fulfil obligations?.

The court had a responsibility to ensure that its initial judgment, a ruling that France had broken EU law, was complied with as swiftly as possible and also to prevent similar infringements from recurring, it said.

However, it had not been established that the French authorities had failed to cooperate in good faith, it said.

The directive, agreed by EU governments in 2001, regulates how GM crops may be grown and approved across the bloc. It ranks as the EU?s main law, of around five, on biotech crops.

It covers the cultivation of GM seeds for crop or seed production and also includes imports of GM products and their processing for industrial purposes.

EU governments had a deadline of October 2002 to revise their national legislation to include the law, known as the Deliberate Release directive. (Reporting by Jeremy Smith, editing by Dale Hudson)


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