Anti-GM food protest leaves 18 injured in Belgium

29th May 2011, Comments 6 comments

Environmental activists stormed a field of genetically modified potatoes in Belgium Sunday, breaking through a security cordon in a raid that left police and protesters injured, authorities and organisers said.

Police said they briefly detained around 40 people taking part in the "Field Liberation Movement", which aimed to destroy the research crop in the northwestern town of Wetteren, according to Belga news agency.

Around 10 officers were slightly injured, according to police, while organisers said eight on their side were manhandled.

More than 200 people took part in the protest but only a few managed to sneak through fences and a police line protecting the field, said Franciska Soler, of the Volunteer Reapers of France which participated in the event.

"A certain number of potato plants were destroyed," Soler told AFP.

Jo Bury, the director of the VIB science research institute that planted the potatoes, said around 100 scientists had tried to talk the activists out of raiding the field.

While GM foods are common in places such as the United States and Brazil, they are highly divisive in Europe.

Just two GM crops are authorised on European soil -- a maize strain for animal feed and a potato for paper-making.

An internal survey conducted by the European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, showed last month that 13 out of 27 EU states see no benefit from GM crops.

© 2011 AFP

6 Comments To This Article

  • David Tribe posted:

    on 1st July 2011, 05:31:55 - Reply

    Recently Vandana Shiva applauded the use of violence to stop use of genetics.
    Major figures in the anti-GMO movement favour violence.
    More details here.
    Sadly they get approval from people who should know better
  • zassefa posted:

    on 2nd June 2011, 15:14:37 - Reply

    I agree with mike and I think Mark E. Smith needs to check his facts.

    As a research scientist (medical) and just a sensible human being, the safety of any drug (including vaccine) is relative - usually based on Statistical significance. That is why we usually have so many different medications for the same illness.

    Mixing the issues disparate items such as vaccine, X-ray, nuclear energy etc with GM food sounds like bla, bla bla without much substance...

    Mark E. Smith, the following publications might help you improve your understanding of the GM of issue:

    1. Genetically Modified Foods: Experts View Regimen of Safety Tests as Adequate, but FDA's Evaluation Process Could Be Enhanced. GAO-02-566 Genetically Modified Foods
    2. Genetically modified plants and human health. J R Soc Med 101 (6): 290–8.
    3. European Commission Directorate-General for Research and Innovation; Directorate E — Biotechnologies, Agriculture, Food; Unit E2 — Biotechnologies (2010). A decade of EU-funded GMO research (2001 - 2010)
  • Fred Smith posted:

    on 31st May 2011, 11:28:54 - Reply

    Mark Smith writes: "For fifty years the scientific community in the United States insisted that x-rays were perfectly safe for pregnant women and would not harm the fetus."

    This is not true. X-rays were quickly realized to be dangerous because people died from x-rays shortly after they were discovered. They weren't considered to be "perfectly safe for fifty years."

    I may also point out that X-rays are not totally banned in pregnant women. It is realized that low levels of radiation are not completely safe, but they have an extremely low chance of causing problems. Therefore, if a women really needs an x-ray, we will take one. I work in a X-ray department.
  • David Tribe posted:

    on 31st May 2011, 08:37:50 - Reply

    Its not science to assert or imply that something that at face value is beneficial needs a moratorium of 30 years before it is used, and to continue using methods that are arguably not as well tested or even more harmful in their place.Doing nothing is actually doing something. In the case of GM crops it's not rich Europeans who suffer most of the harm from doing nothing. It is poorer smaller farmers in India and Africa. The Indian farmers are now exposed unnecessarily to insecticides because of EU anti0GM activism. Vitamiin A enhanced rice has been delayed for years by EU activism.
    Conventional breeding exhibits are the same potential problems as more modern methods. It's not science to exclude it from scrutiny.

    It's not science to ignore these costs of doing nothing.

    And in the Belgian potato case, which large corporation is reaping the benefit?

    It is not science to be silent about the denial of well qualified scientists freedom to investigate benefits to human welfare by criminal sabotage
  • Mark E. Smith posted:

    on 30th May 2011, 15:34:41 - Reply

    Not all science is used for beneficial ends. Sometimes it is used solely to profit corporations without regard to consequences. And scientific opinions change as new facts become known. For fifty years the scientific community in the United States insisted that x-rays were perfectly safe for pregnant women and would not harm the fetus, but now they are banned because they can indeed harm a fetus. For those fifty years, the few scientists who sounded warning alarms were scoffed at.

    It is not science to assert something you don't know and cannot prove, such as that genetically modified foods are not harmful to humans or will not contaminate and disrupt an ecosystem.

    When the earthquake and tsunami hit Fukushima, I was concerned that there could be a meltdown. When I stated my concerns on a public forum, I was bombarded with ridicule and tons of scientific documentation explaining why there could not be a meltdown due to the design of the reactors. Although it took TEPCO and the Japanese government a long time to admit it, there were indeed several meltdowns at Fukushima. I'm not a sckientist, but my concerns were justified, and those scientists who insisted that it could never happen were flat out wrong.

    And then there's the case of Dr. Alton Ochsner, at that time President of the American Cancer Society and one of the most respected surgeons in the world. When the Salk polio vaccine first came out, he asserted that it was perfectly safe, and to encourage everyone to have their children vaccinated, he had his two grandchildren vaccinated publicly. The vaccine killed his grandson, it was then recalled, and a safer version was created. Sometimes scientists assert as true and factual, things that they do not and cannot know.

    Once GMO foods have been tested in quarantined conditions for a period of twenty to thirty years, we'll know scientifically if they are harmful or not. Until they have been properly tested, anyone asserting that they are safe cannot properly be called a scientist, as they are saying only what they believe, not something that has been scientifically proven. Thalidomide was prescribed for pregnant women on the basis of scientific studies, and later recalled when it caused malformed limbs in children.

    Respect for science is much better than acting on ignorance and unfounded beliefs, but only if we understand what science is and how the scientific method must be applied in order for something to be called science. Actual scientific tests have already proven GMO foods to be harmful to animals and that GMO plants can spread their modified genes to nearby organisms.

    A belief that anything that people calling themselves scientists say, must be correct, is just as fanatically ignorant as any other unscientific belief.
  • mike posted:

    on 30th May 2011, 03:34:52 - Reply

    The anti-GM fanatics on the Left are as appalling as the anti-abortion fanatics on the Right.

    Anti-science stinks, whether it's from the conservative creationists or the liberal "organics" cult.