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France plans law to restore GMO crop ban

PARIS (Reuters) - France has launched a move to restore a ban on genetically modified (GMO) maize annulled by its top court to prevent sowings this spring that could raise public outcry in a country strongly opposed to GMO crops.

A Senator of the ruling Socialist party submitted a draft law on Tuesday calling for the cultivation of any variety of genetically modified maize to be prohibited in the country.

France's previous bans on GMO maize, which only applied to Monsanto's MON 810, the sole GMO crop allowed for cultivation in the European Union, had all been overturned by the country's highest administrative court as lacking sufficient scientific grounds.

The new measure would also apply to any strain adopted in the future, including the insect-resistant maize known as Pioneer 1507 developed jointly by DuPont and Dow Chemical, which could be approved by the EU later this year.

A German government spokesman said on Wednesday Berlin would abstain in an upcoming vote to approve cultivation of the 1507 maize.

The proposed French law could be voted by the Senate as soon as February 17 before being passed to the lower house, a French farm ministry official said on Wednesday.

The implementation of the ban would be monitored by inspectors and GMO crops destroyed, the draft legislation says.

France, the EU's largest grain producer, has argued the technology poses environmental risks, referring to studies by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA).

Monsanto says its GMO maize is safe.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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