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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 July, 2004, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Protesters destroy French GM crop
The Mayor of Begles, Noel Mamere, rips out GM crops near Toulouse
The Mayor of Begles, Noel Mamere, joined the protest near Toulouse
Hundreds of protesters have destroyed a field of genetically modified maize in south-west France.

The demonstrators ripped up the transgenic crop plantation at Menville, near Toulouse.

The activists were led by radical French farmer Jose Bove, who said the protest was being taken in the interests of consumers.

About 15 policemen watched the destruction and took photographs of those involved, but did not intervene.

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"We observed the protest, took down the identities of some of the participants and took photos after warning the organisers that it was illegal and that the information would be forwarded to the Haute-Garrone region's prosecutor," an officer told Reuters news agency.

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Mr Bove said the protesters were prepared to face the consequences.

"This protest is legitimate and we did it to protect the consumer. We will assume the legal risks."

How a plant is genetically modified

It was the latest in a series of protests by opponents of GM crops across Europe.

In May, a French court fined three people 600 euros (396) each for destroying test fields of GM crops in 1997.

There have been about a dozen prosecutions of anti-GM activists in France over the past seven years.

Also in May, the European Commission lifted a six-year moratorium on GM foods, permitting companies to sell maize known as Bt-11, packaged as tinned sweetcorn.

Critics say GM plants and foods have not been properly tested and it is too soon to say if they are safe.


SEE ALSO:
EU funding for GM plant vaccines
12 Jul 04  |  Science/Nature
European Union lifts GM food ban
19 May 04  |  Europe
GM crops: What the science says
09 Mar 04  |  Science/Nature
GM crops 'low risk' for humans
21 Jul 03  |  Science/Nature


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