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State backs new GM vine trial

Ministers promise money on visit to research centre in Alsace where vines were destroyed

A CROP of genetically modified vines in Alsace which were destroyed by eco-activists will be replanted with full government support.

Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire and Research Minister Valérie Pécresse visited the INRA research facility in Colmar, Alsace, where they praised the “exemplary” nature of the research.

They promised financial help to restart the programme, which involves trying to make the vines resistant to a common disease, court-noué (fan leaf).

Ms Pécresse said that France had a “duty” to do such research. She said that France already imported GM foods, and if they gave up on such research we would end up importing more and more on which no French research had been done on possible effects on health or the environment. She added if France banned such schemes French GM scientists might go to work abroad instead.

The ministers stressed various precautions had been taken to make sure there was no contamination from GM material into nature. For example, the vines would not be allowed to flower.

The 70 vines in the trial were attacked on August 15, by 60 activists from around France, who dug them up and chopped them into bits. A previous experiment had been halted by a court due to procedural problems and then vines had been damaged, but not completely destroyed, by a lone activist. The experiment had then restarted in May.

The 60 activists were arrested and an enquiry is under way. The lone activist was given a €2,000 fine and told to pay a symbolic €1 damages to INRA, but has appealed.

Activists destroy GM vines

Photo:BrunoJ - fotolia.com

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