PARIS (B)--Yann Cannistraro, head of Golden Harvest France, June 23 told BridgeNews he had received written approval from the official body for seed control and certification (SOC) for the sale of the maize seed found by the government's anti-fraud squad to contain less than 1% of GM material.
Cannistraro added that the area of maize containing less than 1% of GM material was well below the 4,800 hectares (11,860 acres) quoted by regional newspaper, Sud Ouest.
"When the anti-fraud officials told me they had detected some GM impurities in a container of maize seed coming from the United States I got in touch with the official body which supervises seed control," Cannistraro said. "They wrote to me saying I could sell the seed," he added.
However, a spokesperson from the SOC told BridgeNews that the body does not have the power to authorize the commercialization of seed. "We told Cannistraro it was up to him to decide on whether to sell the seed since there is no official legislation on minimum GM content levels in the EU," a SOC spokesperson said.
Cannistraro also said that the area containing GM maize can't be as large as 4,800 hectares. "We carried out our own tests and found three samples of 47 containing less than 1% GM material," he said. "If the surface is as large as 4,800 hectares then it means all our tests were wrong," he added.
Sud Ouest June 21 revealed that the government's consumer, competition and anti-fraud authorities found that 4,800 hectares of maize planted in southwest France contained less than 1% of GM material. The French government has not yet confirmed the revelations.
This comes less that one month after French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin ordered the destruction of 600 hectares of rapeseed containing GM material.