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France

French anti-GM protestors walk free after destroying vineyard

Checking grapes for harvest
Checking grapes for harvest Reuters/Regis Duvignau

Fifty four activists who destroyed a field of genetically modified vines in eastern France in 2010 were acquitted by a court of appeal on Wednesday after the Judge declared that the state should never have allowed the plantation of such vines in an open area.

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The judges ruled that ministerial authorisation to allow a government research body, INRA (National Institute for Agronomic Research), to test out the crops in an area which was surrounded by other vineyards was “illegal”.

The court pronounced that there was “a clear failure to appreciate the inherent risks” of such an experiment in an unconfined space and criticised the lack of a “real study” about the impact of the GM vines.

“It’s remarkable, this is the first time we have won an appeal” said a jubilant Jean-Pierre Frick, one of the spokespeople for the group of activists.

At the hearing in March, lawyers for the agriculture ministry had called for the activists to be fined and at an earlier trial in 2011, most of the activists were given two month suspended prison sentences and some were also fined 1200 euros.
 

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