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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 September, 2003, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Indian farmers target Monsanto
A group of farmers in southern India has stormed a building formerly used by the global biotech giant, Monsanto.

Karnataka farmers
Monsanto has left the building - but nobody told the farmers, say police

More than 40 farmers of the Karnataka State Farmers' Association ransacked the building in the city of Bangalore on Thursday after staging noisy protests.

The attack came a day after the group demonstrated in the city against more than 70 suicides by farmers in the state in the past three months which the farmers blame on debt, drought and the introduction of Monsanto's genetically modified crops.

Monsanto says its critics have been misinformed, and its experiments in genetically modified farming have been successful in the US, China and other countries.

We have served them [Monsanto] a notice to leave India... We are not afraid of the police.
Professor Nanjundaswamy

Eyewitnesses said the farmers stormed into a former Monsanto research centre, located in India's top science facility, the Indian Institute of Science.

They damaged furniture and windows, and shouted slogans demanding Monsanto close down its operations in India.

Monsanto is active in several southern Indian states, where it has angered environmentalists and farmers by spearheading the cultivation of genetically modified cotton.

Not aware

Police arrested 15 farmers after Thursday's incident.

They said Monsanto had shifted its research facility recently, but the protesters were probably not aware of this.

Karnataka farmers raid building
The attack on the building followed protests over farmers' suicides
The head of the Karnataka State Farmers' Association, Professor MD Nanjundaswamy, has been leading a campaign against multinational food corporations in the state.

He told the BBC the attack was a warning to Monsanto to leave India.

Monsanto denounced the attack as "criminal activity" in which two people were injured by an "out of control mob", saying the farmers' group had targeted other multinationals as well.

The association has in the past torched several farms in the state where Monsanto's new cotton crop was being trialled.

The environmental group, Greenpeace, has joined protests against Monsanto by calling on the company to withdraw its seeds from the market.

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