Environmentalists and consumer groups applauded the government’s move yesterday to stand firm on a ban prohibiting a genetically modified seed developed by US biotech group Monsanto on the grounds that it poses an environmental risk. Deputy Agriculture Minister Alexandros Kontos signed the decision that extends a current ban on the MON810 seed type from entering the country for another 18 months. «Scientific evidence confirms that the cultivation of maize bearing the MON810 genetical modification poses an immediate environmental risk,» Kontos said. The deputy minister added that the modified corn produces a resilience in insects that plague maize and cotton crops. In addition to the 18-month extension, Greece decided to broaden the ban to include 31 types of seed derived from the MON810 varieties, instead of the 17 originally targeted. The news is likely to create a stir in the European Commission, which ordered Greece earlier this month to lift the ban, arguing that Athens has failed to prove that the seeds are dangerous. Sources told Kathimerini last week that the government will not refer the issue to the European Court but will pursue the matter through other legal channels. The ministry said that yesterday’s decision is based on stronger legal foundations than the previous one as it contains new scientific data and findings. Environmentalists Greenpeace backed the government’s decision. «We applaud the fact that Greece is a pioneer in the fight against modified food,» Greenpeace said in a joint statement with farming syndicate GESASE and consumer groups EKPOIZO, KEPKA and INKA. This sort of praise for its stance on environmental issues is unusual for the government, which took the unexpected step of standing up to Brussels. MON810 is one of 18 genetically modified organisms authorized for use in the EU since 2004.