Brussels, 10 February 2020 – France’s Council of State has ruled in favour of a coalition of associations, including the Confédération paysanne, who had mobilised against GMO[1], taking legal action against the French government.


The associations petitionned the court in 2015 over the then Prime Minister’s refusal to declare a moratorium on the cultivation in France of varieties made tolerant to herbicides, or to apply GMO regulations to all varieties obtained by new mutagenesis techniques.


Last week, the Council of State found in favour of the associations, ruling that organisms obtained using new mutagenesis techniques should be subject to European regulations on GMO, specifically European Directive of 12 March 2001 (2001/18/EC). In accordance with the precautionary principle, risk assessments should be carried out on GMO, which must also be subject to compulsory public information, labelling and monitoring requirements.


Following this decision, the French government must now amend its environment code without delay and identify the varieties obtained using new mutagenesis techniques in order to remove them from the catalogue of agricultural plant varieties. This notably affects plant varieties obtained using mutagenesis techniques applied to isolated cells, which are then multiplied in vitro. Reminded of the precautionary principle, the French State will now be required to better assess the risks associated with all plant varieties made tolerant to herbicides, regardless of the technique used to produce them.


ECVC welcomes this victory in the struggle to enforce application of the precautionary principle and of European legislation on GMO, a battle won thanks to the sustained mobilization of many French associations. ECVC is mindful of the fact that the principle of fair competition operating across the EU will mean that other Member States have a duty to take account of the ruling that now compels the French authorities. We therefore hope that ruling will set an example in the EU, where existing legislation is undermined by the economic interests of seed and pesticide producing companies, to the detriment of protections covering health, the environment and the rights of peasants and consumers.


ECVC reiterates its call for strict application of Directive 2001/18/EC to all organisms bred using new genetic modification techniques, both in France and in all Member States of the European Union.



Decision of the Council of State (in French only):





  • Guy Kastler – ECVC Seed Group: +33 603945721 (FR)
  • Antonio Onorati – ECVC Seeds Group: +39 3408219456 (EN, FR, IT, ES)
  • Alessandra Turco – ECVC Coordination Committee: + 39 3476427170 (IT, ES)



[1] Réseau Semences Paysannes, Amis de la Terre, Vigilance OMG, pesticides 16, Vigilance OG2M, CSFV49, OMG Dangers, Vigilance OMG 33, Fédération Nature & Progrès