LE MONDE, 24.07.03

The Confédération Paysanne resumes its anti-GM actions

Crop pulling of Bayer´s experimental field

The Confédération Paysanne Peasants Confederation is intensifying its anti-GM actions. After the crop-pulling, on 19 July, at Brax (Haute- Garonne) of a first experimental field of maize belonging to Bayer Crop Science, the peasants union has "neutralised" the reproductive organs of an insecticide maize, tested, this time by the Group for the study and control of seed varieties (GEVES), linked to INRA, near Guyancourt (Yvelines). An action followed, on 22 July, with the help of militants from ATTAC, from the collective "GM Danger" and the support of the Green member for Europe, Hélène Flautre. Seven militants arrested on Tuesday were still being held as of Thursday 24 July.

"We want to show that our determination is as great as ever in acting in the battle against GM. The imprisonment of José Bové will not make us stand down", says Bruno Galloo, head of the the Confédération Paysanne for Picardie. This leader recognises that his organisation had "put its feet up" on this kind of action recently. "With the European moratorium on the growing of GM crops, it was decided to continue the debate in other ways. But, today, the lifting of the moratorium is imminent", he stated.

By these dramatic actions, the peasants union tries to kill two birds with one stone. On the one hand, showing that the crop destruction in which José Bové took part were not the actions of an isolated individual. On the other side, alerting public opinion to the risks of spreading of GM pollen. "In Corsica, one sees today fire leaping over 2 kilometres, with the wind. And they want us to believe that pollen, lighter than these cinders, will not spread", emphasised Mr Galloo.

Interviewed on Wednesday on RTL, the minister of agriculture, Hervé Gaymard, acknowledged that the question of cross-pollination remained to be decided. "The subject is before us", he indicated.

GEVES, operator of the field at Guyancourt, complained, deploring that "in the course of the last three campaigns" this is "the fourth" of their trials "which was subject to these attacks". From its side, the company Bayer Crop Science indicated, on Wednesday, in a statement, that it "questionned", after the crop-pulling at Brax, the "relevance" of its investments in research on French territory.