PARIS — The Ministry of Agriculture has announced that France's first harvest of transgenic corn will be put into storage and not released onto the market, "pending clarification of the debate surrounding this issue both at a national and a European Union level."

The decision follows the Sept. 25 ruling of the Council of State to suspend the implementation of the government's decision, made in November 1997, that authorized the cultivation of three varieties of genetically modified corn produced by Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, French farmers sowed about 1,200 hectares of transgenic corn this year, expected to produce some 10,000 tons of grain. Harvesting has just started, and the ministry has asked farmers' representatives to ensure that the transgenic corn be stored separately from conventional corn. Growers will be paid the European Union's minimum intervention price. — James Etheridge