The French food safety agency, AFSSA, has ruled that MON 810 corn – transgenic corn manfactured by Monsanto – does not constitute a health risk. The ruling, dated Jan 23 but kept secret until an exclusive in today’s Le Figaro, is a political time bomb for the government, already snowed under with strike action from teachers, recession and unemployment woes. Not only does the ruling run counter to the government’s decision to ban MON 810 last year, it also flied in the face of the overwhelming opposition to transgenic crops among the general population
The decision basically throws out all the questions raised against MON 810, whether they pertain to animal health or human health. These included the toxicity of the insecticidal protein (Cry1Ab) which protects the GM corn from pests such as the borer, a possible link with mad cow disease, or the possible carcinogenic potential.
Environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo will have the thankless task of defending the government’s position before the European Commission later this month, for the ban is only defensible if there is clear scientific evidence to back it up.
Furthermore, the AFSSA’s ruling is in line with the findings published on 31 October by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Austria has been inconflict for the past 10 years with the European executive to prevent the import and sale of GMOs on its territory.