AGPM, the group who seem to be behind this counter-protest, have a policy of encouraging farmers to get involved in GM maize cultivation, pro-actively seeking volunteers. http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/32573/story.htm
They're not France's first pro-GM counter-protesters. In 2004 there were reports of "the surprise emergence in France of a group of radical rural campaigners claiming to be in favour of open-field [GM] experiments".
These "radical rural campaigners" were led by Pierre Pagesse. As well as being a farmer, Pagesse turns out to be the president of Limagrain, which is not just one of the world's leading seed companies but is up to its neck in GM crop R&D! (see Biotech's radical rural campaigners) http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=4239
French Farmers Protest Against GMO Maize Destruction
Reuters, August 02, 2006
Around 300 maize growers protested on Tuesday in southwest France in defence of a local farmer whose field of genetically modified (GMO) maize was destroyed at the weekend by activists linked to Jose Bove.
The maize growers' group AGPM called the destruction of the maize intolerable and said in a statement that extremism and loutish behaviour should not be tolerated.
On Sunday, around 200 protesters destroyed six hectares of maize at a farm near the city of Toulouse, the first time a commercial operation had been targeted. Previous attacks by anti-GMO protesters had been on test fields of new varieties.
The GMO maize was due to be shipped to Spain, where it is incorporated into animal feed.
"This was a first attack on commercially grown maize. Six hectares were destroyed," Bove told Reuters.
Bove, who has long campaigned against GMO crops, globalisation and fast food spent six weeks in jail in 2003 for smashing up a McDonald's restaurant. He was sentenced to four months in prison in November for destroying a GMO maize field.
In June, he announced his intention to run as a candidate in France's presidential elections in 2007.
The latest attack followed a Paris court ruling last week, ordering environmental group Greenpeace to remove the locations of commercial GMO fields in France from its website.
There were also two other attacks on test fields in the same area at the weekend. Five protesters have been detained.
Farm minister Dominique Bussereau strongly condemned what he termed "these acts of vandalism".
Commercial GMO maize growing is slowly spreading in France with some 5,000 hectares sown this year against 493 in 2005.
There are more than 1.5 million hectares sown to traditional maize varieties.
The French government has this year authorised 17 new open field trials of GMO crops, mostly maize. The farm ministry said the weekend attacks meant that 40 percent of test fields had been destroyed in the last two months.
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