Sunday, 20 January 2008

French Farmer Calls Off Hunger Strike.

The following is from Paris 'Associated Press' Jan 11 2008.
..."Militant French farmer Jose Bove and about 15 supporters called off their hunger strike in its eighth day after the government ordered the suspension of the use of genetically modified corn.
France will suspend cultivation of MON810, the seed for the only type of genetically modified corn now allowed in the country, until a European Union review is conducted, Prime Minister Francois Fillon's office said.
The move was based on a recommendation this week by a government-appointed panel calling for "the need for additional analyses on the health and environmental effects of the genetically modified product MON810 in the long term," Fillon's office said in a statement.
Bove and his supporters began the hunger strike Jan 3, saying they hoped to pressure the government to make good on a promise in November to suspend cultivation of MON810. He said they only drank water or unsweetened tea during the protest.
The seed, which resists some types of insects, was authorized before a government-ordered moratorium on genetically modified products took effect in 1999. Last year, it was planted in about 54,000 acres in France-mainly in southern farmland.
Bove rose to fame in August 1999 when he and supporters used farm equipment to dismantle a McDonald's branch under construction in the foothills of France's Massif Central mountains.
He has faced repeated trials and served jail time for destroying genetically modified crops." (End of quote)
France's environment minister Jean-Louis Boloo told the National Assembly that the clampdown on MON810 was a precaution that would only last until the release of an European re-evaluation of the crop in the coming month. Borloo insisted that biotechnologies were crucial for France....."In terms of agriculture it is doubly crucial for us. We have trouble feeding six billion people, nine billion tomorrow, with less arable land and probable less productive soil" Borloss said.

Borloo voices the pro GM mantra here, that 'biotechnology is needed to feed the growing populations.' The more we explore this claim, the more a different story emerges....
I mentioned in a previous post the Ethiopian farmers who have rejected the introduction of foreign seeds, due to the negative environmental and health impacts . The same sort of resistance to the introduction of foreign seeds has recently been expressed by farmers and scientists in Bangladesh. Agents of multinational companies have made a bid to introduce one-time usable foreign hybrid paddy seeds in the Sidr-southern region. (hurricanes have led to a seed crisis in this region.) Local agricultural experts and farmers have said that the introduction of foreign seeds will threaten extinction of local varieties, which have good taste and greater nutritional value. Also production costs will rise as foreign varieties need more care and costly fertilizer, irrigation and pesticides. The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute says that the government should take initiative for collection, preparation development and supply of local varieties of paddy seeds and take measures so that farmers are not lured to use foreign seeds for 'more profit'.

We see here an echo of Jose Bove's warning of how GM crops represent more than a potential risk to health and environment, but also destroy communities as small farmers are forced off the land.

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