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GM protestors arrested as EU opposition radicalises (26/4/2006)

EXCERPTS: "We are putting Monsanto on notice, along with each and every Biotech firm that is contaminating our fields and our food supply now - or has future plans to introduce GM seeds - this is the beginning, we will not stop until France is declared a GM free zone," said Olivier Keller, national secretary of the Confederation Paysanne. (item 1)

Half of all open-field GM crop trials carried out in France in 2004 were ripped out by anti-GM campaigners, according to the Commission on Biomolecular Engineering (CGB).

Court decisions last year acquitting two groups of activists who destroyed GMO crops have further bolstered opposition to the experimental plantations. (item 2)
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1.GM protestors arrested as EU opposition radicalises
By Anthony Fletcher
Food Navigator Europe, 14/04/2006
http://www.foodnavigator.com/news/ng.asp?n=67081-monsanto-biotech-maize

This week, Jose Bove, who has become a symbol of French opposition to genetic modification (GM), was arrested after he, along with up to 75 campaigners, attempted to occupy Monsanto's seed facility near Carcassonne in southern France.

The campaign against the North American biotech giant had been organised by the Collectif des faucheurs volontaires, la Confederation paysanne and Greenpeace. The protestors want Monsanto and the French authorities to stop importing and distributing GM maize seed into France.

"We are here to demand that the French authorities ban GM seed and in the interim corporate conglomerate Monsanto must stop hiding where these environmentally destructive maize seeds are to be grown," said Bove.

"Farmers and consumers have the right to know where GM seeds are entering agriculture and the food-chain, so they can protect themselves against genetic contamination."

In particular, the protesters aim to influence the new GM law currently being discussed in the French parliament. Greenpeace alleges that the new law, if passed, would allow massive genetic contamination of both organic and conventional maize.

"We are putting Monsanto on notice, along with each and every Biotech firm that is contaminating our fields and our food supply now - or has future plans to introduce GM seeds - this is the beginning, we will not stop until France is declared a GM free zone," said Olivier Keller, national secretary of the Confederation Paysanne.

"GM is harming the environment and is causing genetic contamination of the food-chain and agriculture, thus threatening the right of farmers and consumers to grow and eat GM free food."

Biotech companies and regulators argue that adequate controls are already in place to ensure that the cross-contamination is not an issue.

"Thousands of European farmers grew GM last year, successfully co-existing with their neighbours," said Simon Barber, director of the plant biotechnology unit at EuropaBio - the European association for bioindustries.

"In the last three years alone, independent, scientific studies on co-existence have been conducted in six European countries."

In addition, Mariann Fischer Boel, member of the European Commission responsible for agriculture and rural development, pointed out that the question of how to cultivate a given GM crop alongside non-GM crops only arises if that crop has already been cleared as harmless by the EU's assessment system.

"That system is, arguably, the strictest in the world," she told a recent GM conference in Vienna.

But the point is that vocal opposition to GM food in Europe remains critically influential. This week the Slovakian inspectorate of environment published a decision that states Monsanto will not distribute their GM maize for the 2006 growing season, effectively shutting out sales of GM maize for the next year.

Greenpeace claims that the halt was put in place, due in part, to pressure on the Slovakian inspectorate to answer <I> "growing concerns about environmental damage and contamination caused by GM maize".

"Resistance against GM in our fields and food has been growing globally since its release onto the market nearly 10 years ago," said Geert Ritsema, Greenpeace International GM campaigner.

"In Europe alone 172 regions have declared themselves GM free, and around the world many other governments, farmers and citizens are uniting to keep their countries GM free."

It would appear that the concept of tampering with the genetic make-up of food still packs a mighty emotional punch for a large number of EU consumers and for some, no amount of scientific studies verifying the safety or environmental benefits of the technology is likely to change this. [not if they're like the ones we have seen - or not seen! - to date - ed]
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2.Jose Bove arrested again at anti-GM protest
http://www.thecampaign.org/forums/showthread.php?t=286

LUNEL, France, April 14, 2006 (AFP) - French anti-globalisation icon Jose Bove was arrested on Thursday on the sidelines of a protest targeting the US biotech group Monsanto, but was released a few hours later.

Around 100 members of Greenpeace and of Bove's Small Farmer's Confederation broke into a Monsanto site in Trebes, near Carcassonne in southwestern France, where they suspect the company stocks genetically-modified (GM) seeds.

Bove was arrested along with a fellow activist after the protest wound up, in the centre of Trebes, by four armed officers, his companion Ghislaine Dambrun told AFP.

He was brought to Lunel further east near Montpellier where he was released shortly before midnight. Some 50 supporters were waiting for him outside the police station.

"We discovered documents leading us to believe that Monsanto is stocking GM maize seeds on this site," Bove said earlier, accusing the French government of tolerating a "lack of transparency" from biotech firms.

The farmer-activist, who has campaigned fiercely against GM foods in Europe, has served jail terms for ripping out GM crops as well as for wrecking a McDonald's outlet in southern France in 1999.

Sixty percent of the French are hostile to GM crops, polls show, and 78 percent would back a temporary moratorium until their impact on health and the environment is fully understood.

Half of all open-field GM crop trials carried out in France in 2004 were ripped out by anti-GM campaigners, according to the Commission on Biomolecular Engineering (CGB).

Court decisions last year acquitting two groups of activists who destroyed GMO crops have further bolstered opposition to the experimental plantations.

Copyright AFP

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