I wrote about the French January 9 moratorium on plants created with molecular plant breeding techniques previously. I thought the reports that stated there was a strong reason for concern about the safety of the plans was a sham, considering the 11-year record of commercial use connected with these plants. Turns out that that 12 of the 15 members on the panel, a.k.a. all the members from the scientific community, say that their findings were misrepresented in the announcement from the French government. Here is a translation of the announcement from French Association for Scientific Information:
AFIS statement, 10 January 2008
MON 810: the activation of a safeguard clause is not scientifically justified!In a very mediatic statement, the president of the “Committee for the formation of a high authority on GMOs” stated on 9 January 2008 that there were “a certain number of new scientific facts concerning the negative impact of MON 810 maize, resistant to the European corn borer, on fauna and flora”. This precedes the activation of a safeguard clause and the establishment of a decree banning the planting of MON 810 maize as of 2008.
The French Association for Scientific Information (AFIS) wishes to express its surprise at this announcement, just as it already expressed its surprise at the statements of the President of the Republic during the closing of the “Grenelles de l’Environnement” with regard to the form, based on the use of inappropriate and biased wording, and the content, especially given the numerous scientific studies, French and international, which respond clearly and unambiguously to the questions asked.
After examining the opinion and having had contact with several scientists that participated in the meetings of the Committee, AFIS comes to the following conclusions:
– This opinion contains a list of data
– The data was not discussed scientifically
– No flaws are indicated in any of the arguments brought forward, even where the wording is approximate and the content is incomplete
– None of the arguments brought forward can be considered new or severe, justifying the activation of a safeguard clause
Concerning the conclusions that the political authorities believed they had to draw from the opinion for the press conference held January 9th, AFIS:
§ Denounces the confusion which is systematically maintained between “exposure” and “impact”
§ Notes that no new elements have been brought forward which would justify suspending cultivation of maize resistant to corn borers
§ Reaffirms that the scientific uncertainties on the safety of genetically modified maize in Europe are nothing but ” imaginary, even deceitful, uncertainties both from an environmental as well as a food chain point of view”
§ Reaffirms that, without denying the importance of biovigilance when it comes to cultivating Bt maize varieties, wanting to prohibit the use of it by French farmers has no scientific justification whatsoever
§ Denounces the political instrumentalization of the scientists appointed to take part in the “Committee of formation of a High Authority on GM products”
§ Will post on its website the letter which it addressed to the public authority on January 8, together with the declaration “Why ban cultivation of GM maize?” supported by a thousand signatures, of which several hundred signatures of academics, researchers, doctors, joined by highly responsible farmers and agronomists.
§ Will post on its website the full text of the opinion by the Committee of formation of a High Authority on GM products and will add, progressively, summarized elements and clarifications necessary for citizens to be able to understand, in this way fulfilling its mission of scientific information
Having organized at the Senate on January 17 the colloquium “Sustainable Biotechnology and Agriculture,” to which several scientists whose work was cited in the Opinion Document of the Committee or who participated in the different meetings of the Committee will attend, AFIS will see to it that the sound scientific responses are duly reported and will make public the full summary of the colloquium in order to inform citizens prior to the examination of a proposition of law on biotechnology, to be submitted for examination by the National Representation.