ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  6 March 2001

FRANCE: March 5, 2001

PARIS - A French court has ordered the government to publish a list of sites in France where genetically modified (GM) crops are being grown on a test basis, an environmental group said on Friday.

France Nature Environnement (FNE) said the administrative tribunal of Paris had ordered the government to divulge the list on the basis that it is public information.

FNE said the ruling came after it challenged the government's stance, arguing the list should be made public because the farm ministry already alerts local authorities if GM organisms are being grown in their area.

The group said it welcomed the court's ruling and said it raised questions over the government's intentions.

"How can the government boast about food safety when it refuses to communicate the list of information that the law requires be made public?" the group said in a statement.

Farm ministry officials declined to comment on the ruling. Environmental activists, including members of left-wing French farm union Confederation Paysanne, have destroyed several experimental plots of GM crops over the past two years amid mounting public opposition to
bioengineered foods.

FNE said, however, that its goal in making the list public was not so that its members could then destroy the sites.

"Destruction of fields is not consistent with our strategy," the group said. "Our action is based on the principle of public information, without an ulterior motive."

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