GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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France to Label Frankenfoods



    PARIS, Feb 3 (Reuter) - France is expected to authorise the marketing of
genetically-modified maize as early as this week after drafting its own
compulsory labelling code, a farm ministry official said on Monday. 

   "It will be in the coming days, possibly this week," the official told
Reuters. 

    The official made the comments after the ministry announced in a
statement that the decree authorising the marketing of genetically-modified
maize would be published "very soon" in the Official Journal.
    This follows the publication in the February 2 edition of the Official
Journal of a regulation making the labelling of gene-altered organisms and
derived products mandatory in France. 

    In December the European Commission cleared imports of
genetically-modified maize developed by the Swiss firm Ciba-Geigy AG
<CIGZn.S> for sale in Europe. 

    When the EU cleared the sale it said it would revise laws to allow for
the labelling of goods containing genetically-modified material. 

    France had initially said it would approve the sale of
genetically-modified maize only when the EU labelling rules were in place.
    But France had said that if the EU did not move fast enough it would come
up with its own labelling rules. 

    The statement specified that the marketing authorisation would apply only
to "the import of maize and derived products," 

and not yet the cultivation of gene-altered maize. 

    French farmers will be authorised to grow gene-maize only after
gene-modified seeds are listed in the "official register of species and
plants grown in France," the statement said. 

    The imminent decision to clear the import of gene-modified maize will
also lift uncertainty surrounding the fate of three cargoes of U.S.
by-products believed to contain gene-modified maize that were seized by
French customs in January, the ministry official said. 

    European consumers and environment groups have opposed the release of
gene-altered maize in the European Union, arguing there may be possible risk
to human health and environment. 

    -- Paris newsroom +331 4221 5432   

11:44 02-03-97