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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 20:58 GMT
'McHero' cheered at anti-Davos meeting
A French sheep farmer who was last year convicted of vandalising a McDonald's hamburger restaurant in France has been hailed as a hero by an anti-globalisation meeting in Brazil.
The farmer, Jose Bove, who has become a folk hero in France for his crusade against globalisation, had been threatened with deportation after he was detained by federal police on Monday night.
Mr Bove has been accused of destroying fields of genetically-modified crops during a protest against multi-national food companies.
On Monday, he was given 24 hours to leave Brazil after he joined an invasion of land belonging to the biotechnology company, Monsanto.
Several hundred farmers, led by Mr Bove and Brazil's Landless Workers Movement, had ravaged the Monsanto fields, uprooting genetically-modified corn and soybean plants.
Transgenic crops and seeds are illegal in Brazil but Monsanto says the fields have government approval.
The French activist went to Brazil to attend the first World Social Forum, a gathering of anti-globalisation campaigners.
Mr Bove was released after signing a document obliging him to leave Brazil. But the Landless Workers' Movement appealed on his behalf.
Mr Bove has been compared to the French cartoon character Asterix, who fights against the legions of the Roman Empire.
He and nine other members of his farmers' union, Peasant Confederation, had been accused of attacking the half-built restaurant in the town of Millau, which lies in a region famous for its pungent Roquefort cheese.
The French activist also became the figurehead of a protest movement in Seattle in 1999, when he had participated alongside thousands of Americans in demonstrations outside a World Trade Organisation meeting.