French say no

Published: Friday 15 January 1999

france has decided to suspend a judgement on whether it will allow the planting of genetically-altered corn, dashing industry hopes that the French market would soon be open to the products. France's Council of State, which monitors administrative law, had been due to decide in December whether to let Swiss life sciences firm, Novartis, market the modified seeds in the country. However, the court decided that a decision was impossible due to the legal complexities of the case. Instead of granting permission, the court referred the case to the European Court of Justice. Only a European Court could establish whether a ban in France breached European Commission legislation which approves the use of genetically-modified maize, said the council.

Novartis said it regretted the decision and other industry groups attacked the move. agpm , an association of maize producers, said it "deplored the persistent indecision" surrounding maize crops. Environmental group Greenpeace said the move strengthened the case for a Europe-wide moratorium on genetically modified crops. "We are very happy. The ban could last several months, possibly a year," said Bruno Rebelle, director general of Greenpeace, France.

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