Anti-GM militants clash with policein SW France

6th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

AUCH, France, Sept 5 (AFP) - Several hundred anti-GM activists clashed with police on Sunday during a protest in southwestern France and 10 people were briefly detained including the militant French farmer Jose Bove.

AUCH, France, Sept 5 (AFP) - Several hundred anti-GM activists clashed with police on Sunday during a protest in southwestern France and 10 people were briefly detained including the militant French farmer Jose Bove.  

The activists had aimed to rip up a crop of genetically-modified maize in the village of Solomiac in the Gers region, but were stopped by large numbers of gendarmes and soldiers who barricaded the field.  

Police used tear gas and batons to fight back the protestors - 600 according to organisers, while police said 400 - as they tried to force their way into the field, with women and children in the lead.  

Two police and two demonstrators were injured, according to police.   Bove, a high-profile anti-globalisation campaigner who was jailed last year for trashing GM crops, was released after two hours of questioning as a witness to the clashes.  

"I was questioned as a witness and said I had nothing to declare as is my right," Bove told reporters. Nine other people were briefly held by police for questioning.  

"What we need is a national debate and a referendum," Bove said, charging that the French authorities were resorting to violence in an "admission of weakness", instead of tackling the issues at stake.  

"The police deployment was totally out of proportion to the protest," charged Jean-Emile Sanchez, spokesman for the Farmers Confederation, who said the police reaction had been overly violent.  

Last month police stood by as several hundred protesters trashed a field of genetically engineered corn.  

Bove was freed from prison in August last year after serving six weeks of a 10-month sentence for two counts of destroying GM crops.  

A group of environmentalists led by Bove, who shot to prominence after he helped demolish a partly built McDonald's fast food restaurant in 1999, vowed in July to destroy all GM crops in France.  

The government has approved tests of GM crops in 15 regions.

 

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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