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Viva la France!

France is to maintain a ban on genetically modified crops, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Saturday September 15th.

The ban targets Monsanto’s MON810 maize, which is the only genetically modified organism (GMO) currently allowed anywhere in Europe.

As Europe’s largest crop-grower, France is under pressure to soften its stance on GMO’s.

However, in a country that is fiercely protective of its agriculture, regarding it as part of its national identity, the government faces strong public resistance to GMO crops, as well as to the use of chemicals in farming.

Earlier this year a French court found Monsanto guilty of chemical poisoning after a farmer from the south-eastern town of Lyon claimed he had suffered neurological problems caused by inhaling one of the biotech giant’s weedkillers.

Ayrault said the government also intended to ban crop dusting, the use of aircraft to spray pesticides over wide areas, except in cases where there was no viable alternative.

The move was part of a broader plan to reduce the use of chemicals in farming, the prime minister said.

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