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The Precautionary Principle Against Science


The culture of the single transgenic maize (MON810 , produced by Monsanto) approved by the European Union has been banned from France. It is the third time since 2008 that genetically modified corn is banned from the French territory. The decree of March 15th states that “in light of scientific evidence and very recent results of international research, the cultivation of seed MON810 without proper management measures would cause serious risks to the environment as well as a risk of spreading harmful organisms.”

All the countries do not have the same approach in terms of regulation. According to the Center for Food Safety, 64 countries now have regulations more or less strict on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Benin, Zambia and Serbia are simply prohibiting the import and cultivation of GMOs. Within the European Union, opinions differ on the cultivation and importation of these products, but all countries are subject to the same guidelines passed by European Parliament in Strasbourg. Generally, a consumer information label is required if the product is containing more than 0.9 % of GMO.

Some hardliners, like France, are opposed to the cultivation of GMOs and do not comply to the Community rules for which cacophony has become the rule. Decisions are indefinitely postponed.

In France the precautionary principle is obviously the first obstacle to experimentation. This ideal shield only hinders discussions while stretching ad infinitum the legal process. The GMOs image is the first problem as fear is the first barrier.

Objective public health criteria are not at the center of the debates but rather a disastrous public opinion view of GMOs. This is what reveals the analysis of economist Daniel Treisman (The Geography of Fear, NBER Working Paper No. 16838 , March 2011) shows that 79% of French are afraid of GMOs.

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