Paris - The French government on Saturday suspended the use of genetically modified corn crops in France while it awaits EU approval for a full ban.

The order formalized France's announcement Jan. 11 that it would suspend cultivation of Monsanto's MON810, the seed for the only type of genetically modified corn now allowed in the country.

Environmental groups and anti-globalization activists had long pushed for an order suspending use of genetically modified corn - but some farmers' group and agricultural companies opposed the push.

On Friday, the French Senate approved a law curbing the involvement of non-governmental organizations in a state agency that manages the genetically modified crop issue, a blow to environmental groups.

The law also makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in prison and up to $109,000 in fines, to destroy farms that grow genetically modified crops.

The European Food Safety Authority says genetically modified products do not constitute a risk to human health or the environment, but some EU governments - including Austria, France, Greece and Hungary - are wary of biotechnology.

Under European Union rules, the Brussels-based European Commission has final say on whether member nations can ban genetically modified products that the bloc has authorized.