Anti-GMO Activists Protest at a Monsanto Construction Site

Corn is one of the main crops affected by the GMO debate. Photo: Will Bakker, flickr.com

Corn is one of the main crops affected by the GMO debate.
Photo: Will Bakker, flickr.com

Early Monday morning, approximately 100 anti-GMO activists arrived at the site of American giant Monsanto in Trèbes, in the Aude region of France. They rolled out banners stating, “OGM = menace à tout le vivant,” meaning “GMOs = threat to all living things,” and “60 plus de silos = plus de pesticides et moins d’abeilles,” or  “60 more silos = more pesticides and less bees.”

However, the protestors were met by gendarmes, who were already on the premises and prepared to deal with the protest, and were prevented from entering.

The group was protesting the site’s expansion plan and wanted to carry out a citizen-led investigation to confirm that there was no transgenic corn on the premises, said Jacques Dandelot, a “voluntary reaper.”

In January 2012, anti-GMO activists discovered sacks of MON 810 corn, which led the Sarkozy government to announce a ban on their culture.

According to Michel David, departmental secretary of the Confédération paysanne and member of the National Committee on GMOs, the group also wanted to bring attention to the Séralini GMO scandal, in which the French Academy of Sciences, followed by five other major Academies, released a statement defaming Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini’s work. Published in September 2012, the two-year study on the effects of GM maize NK 603 on a population of 200 rats revealed that the animals fed with GMOs died earlier and developed more tumors than those in the control group.

In 1998, the European Union authorized the growth of Monsanto’s MON 810 GMO corn for ten years. An attempt to renew its permit in 2007 failed, as the authorization process froze due to hostility from several member states.

Since then, eight countries – France, Germany, Luxemburg, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria and Poland – have adopted safeguard clauses banning the cultivation of EU-authorized GMOs on their territories.

The authorization of genetically modified organisms remains a highly controversial topic throughout Europe, and especially in France, where there has been a long history of resistance and hostility toward the crops.

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