27 February 1998

Protesters are fined in France

THREE French farmers, charged with destroying genetically modified maize seed owned by agrochemical company Novartis, have received suspended prison sentences and fines.

The farmers were charged after a protest at a Novartis plant in the Lot et Garonne region of France.

During the protest a small group spoke to the plants director and were told that only 10kg of GM seed was held at the plant in a laboratory. But while they were being shown round the lab other farmers found a small building where they found GM maize was being stored.

They mixed 4-5t of GM maize with conventional seed. They also soaked the seed with water.

&#8226 Greenpeace is to take legal action against the French government over its decision to allow GM maize to be grown in France. The GM maize is expected to be sown on about 30,000ha (74,100 acres) this season.

And in Ireland, the Environ-mental Protection Agency has received 3423 objections to plans by Monsanto to expand its trials on GM sugar beet to 10 sites in the country this year.