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French Environmental Groups Call for GE Food Moratorium
8) French environmentalists want longer gene crop ban
March 16, 1999

PARIS, Reuters [WS] via NewsEdge Corporation : French environmental groups,
spurred on by talk
of a possible freeze on gene-crops in Britain, on Monday called for a
longer, broader moratorium in
France so wider tests could be carried out.
``This is a sign of encouragement which should push the French government
to reconsider the risks
from gene modified foods,'' said campaigner Etienne Vernet at Ecoropa.
``We want a moratorium on all types of GM food for three to five years so
we can do more tests. If
Britain did impose a three year freeze, France should do the same thing.''
Greenpeace France Director Bruno Rebelle also backed a freeze on GM crops
until at least 2002
and more rigorous tests. France imposed a two-year freeze on genetically
engineered oilseed
varieties last July after concerns the modifications could be transmitted
to other crops. In December
the high court upheld a freeze on three strains of gene-modified maize
seeds while the case goes to
the European court of justice.
Newspaper reports on Monday that Britain planned a three-year moratorium on
GM crops were
denied by the UK environment ministry.
But French groups said the speculation showed consumer pressure was
starting to bear fruit. ``This
illustrates growing opposition from consumers,'' said Rebelle.''
``Lots of countries are starting to challenge (GM foods). The consumer is
starting to bring more and
more to this debate,'' said GM campaign coordinator Stephen Kerckhove at
environmental group
Agir pour l'Environment.
Nobody was available for comment at France's environment ministry, but an
agriculture ministry
spokeswoman said a freeze in Britain would not influence France's position
on GM crops.
``We are completely independent,'' she said. ``We have not even discussed
what's happening in
Britain.''
But the environmentalists, who work closely with counterparts in other
European countries, said
opposition to GM foods was growing across Europe and urged environment
ministers to broach the
debate together.
Consumers in France and Europe tended to have a different view of food than
in the United States
and were more concerned with safety, he added.
((Catherine Bremer, Paris newsroom +33 1 4221 5146, fax +33 1 4236 1072,
email
paris.newsroom+reuters.com))
[Copyright 1999, Reuters]

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