PARIS — The French National Assembly has approved the government's plans for establishing a vigilance system for the cultivation of genetically modified organism (GMO) crops, but the measure will not come into effect until next spring, because of the time needed for it to be debated in the Senate and then published in the official gazette.

Responsibility for monitoring the sowing of GMO crops and inspecting the fields concerned will be vested in the existing Plant Protection Service of the Ministry of Agriculture. Its inspectors will depend on the cooperation of industry, insofar as companies producing the crops are required to notify the ministry of the sites at which their products are planted.

Despite the recent ruling of the Council of State to suspend the cultivation of three varieties of genetically modified maize produced by Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, an official at the Ministry of Agriculture told BioWorld International that transgenic corn was being planted at much the same rate as before. Corn now being harvested and put into storage on the ministry's instructions could well be put on the market one day, depending on the Council of State's definitive judgment, expected in early December. — James Etheridge