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Journalist Hugh Schofield on Jose Bove's court case
"He remains a popular character"
 real 28k

Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 16:35 GMT
Radical farmer defiant at GM trial
Jose Bove and other activists at a Monsanto-owned Brazilian field
Mr Bove (right): Fighting "battle for the future"
Radical French farmer Jose Bove, on trial for the destruction of genetically-modified plants, is defiantly standing by his actions in court.

Today we do not need to burn our hand in a flame to know that there is a danger

Jose Bove
He told the court in Montpellier on Thursday that wrecking the plants was a "battle for the future".

Mr Bove and two colleagues are on trial for the destruction of 3,000 genetically-modified rice plants at a research institute in June 1999.

"GMOs are a necro-technology. They are the result of technological tinkering," he said on French La Chaine Info television.

Mr Bove shot to fame when he ransacked a McDonald's restaurant in his home town of Millau and was a prominent activist at the 1999 Seattle anti-globalisation protests.

Public debate

The trial is taking place under heavy security as police expect protests from the Confederation Paysanne farmers' union, which Mr Bove heads.

McDonald's take-away
Mr Bove faces a three-month sentence for his attack on McDonald's
Mr Bove and his fellow defendants - Dominique Soullier and Rene Riesel - all admit attacking the centre and could face five years in prison if convicted.

Mr Bove is already appealing against a three-month jail sentence for his destruction of the McDonald's restaurant.

A spokesman for the research centre, Cirad, welcomed the current public debate on GMOs but condemned Mr Bove's attacks.

"The rise of a public debate is an excellent thing for everyone. What worries us a great deal is that a systematic attack on all public research is not debate, it's an attempt at intimidation," he said.

But Mr Bove maintains his actions are for a just cause.

"Scientists only understand about 1% of the workings of genes in organisms and today with this lack of knowledge they are trying to impose technologies which provide no certainty or guarantee," he said.

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