PARIS - While authorizing cultivation of two more brands of genetically modified maize, the French government also implemented a two-year moratorium on a number of other transgenic plants, including rapeseed and beetroot.

The moratorium means French farmers will be banned from sowing these plants for at least two years and possibly longer.

The two new types of transgenic maize French farmers can grow are MON810 from Monsanto Co., of St. Louis, and TER25 from Hoechst Schering AgrEvo GmbH, of Berlin. AgrEvo is a German joint venture between Hoechst AG, of Frankfurt, and Schering AG, of Berlin.

The decision on maize from Monsanto and AgrEvo comes eight months after approval of three forms of transgenic corn from Novartis AG, of Basel, Switzerland, and reflects the French government's declared policy of studying applications on a case-by-case basis.

The MON810 and TER25 maize rulings were based on the “positive opinion of competent French and European committees of experts,“ said government officials who assessed these two products on the basis of their risks both to human health and to the environment.

As regards rapeseed, on the other hand, the government put it in the category of “plants that run the risk of cross-breeding with other species“ and referred to “uncertainties about the diffusion of transgenes in the environment.“ The two-year moratorium has been imposed “within the framework of European procedures.“

In view of the general risks associated with the large-scale cultivation of genetically modified plants, French officials said they will put in place a system of stricter vigilance to ensure downstream monitoring of the consequences of such cultivation.

And for consumers, French authorities said they will establish a system of traceability for the whole transgenic plant production chain in France and will “propose it for use at an international level.“ *