A Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) controversy: a “hot potato”

Aurélien Evrard

The decision made by the European Commission to authorise the cultivation of a genetically modified potato, and in fact to lift the moratorium on GMOs, caused a strong debate in France. If the French association for vegetal biotechnologies were to welcome this decision,[1] environmental associations asked the government to use its safeguard clause. The latter decided to refer to the High Council on Biotechnologies (HCB) before making a decision, said the Ministries for the Environment and for Agriculture in a joint declaration.[2] According to Hervé Kempf, from Le Monde, such a decision not only flies in the face of the Europe-wide debate of the past ten years, but it also raises a question, which discounts the European ideal: “In order to pave the way for GM products, the Commission plans to give each state the right to choose whether or not to authorise them, which clearly cuts the very principle of European integration and manifests the cacophony which currently reigns in the EU.”[3]

[1] Agrapress: L’autorisation de la pomme de terre Amflora critiquée, 15/03/2010.

[2] Communiqué de Presse, 03/03/2010, available at: (last access: 04/06/2010).

[3] Le Monde: Mal à l’Europe, 07/03/2010.