French GM activist on hunger strike

Jose Bove is campaigning for a ban on all genetically modified crops.

    Bove was last year convicted of ripping up GM crops from a field in southern France [File: EPA]

    "I made this decision because the GM debate is blocked and the government has not kept its promise," he said.

    The government of Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, has suspended the use of a brand of maize - the highly bug-resistant MON810 developed by the US agrochemical company Monsanto - pending new legislation.

     

    MON810 is the only GM crop currently authorised in France.

    GM regulation

    A bill on regulating GM crops is due to be debated in France's national assembly later this month and a vote is expected before February  9 when the government's temporary freeze is due to end. 

    "I made this decision because the GM debate
    is blocked
    and the government has not kept
    its promise"


    Jose Bove,
    anti-GM campaigner

    But Bove said talks with the government on the contentious issue had been deadlocked since a national environment conference in October.
     
    Jean-Louis Borloo, environment minister, told parliament after that conference that France would seek to opt out of an EU-wide policy  allowing GM crops.
      
    The government has prepared a request to the EU to allow the moratorium, with several scientific studies supporting its case, he said.

    GM crops cover less than one per cent of farmland in France, Europe's largest agricultural producer, but they have increased in the last year.

    Production of GM maize has increased from 5,000 hectares in 2006 to about 22,000 hectares in 2007.
     
    Bad food campaign

    "I believe that now we need to push the government to see this through to its end," Bove said.

    The campaign against genetically modified produce is part of his crusade against what he calls "malbouffe", or bad food.

    In 1990, Bove lived on mineral water for 18 days to protest against then president Francois Mitterrand's proposed changes to agricultural subsidies for farmers.

    Asked how long he planned to go without eating this time, Bove said "this doesn't depend on me".
     
    Bove was a candidate in last year's presidential but won less than two per cent of the vote.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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