Brussels, 03 Oct 2003
More than 700 researchers from the French public sector and universities have signed a petition calling for a public debate on biotechnology research programmes.
This initiative follows the collection of over 1,500 signatures defending research into genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which itself was a response to the destruction of 25 GMO field trials over the summer.
All of France's public research institutions are represented in this latest petition, most notably INRA, CNRS, CIRAD and CEMAGREF.
'Researchers and universities say to society that they should be party to decisions concerning the objectives and use of the results of their work. They declare that quality research should strive to be socially relevant, particularly when it concerns food safety and the management of biodiversity resources,' states the petition.
The researchers claim that the recent destruction of GMO field trials was a useful warning, and should lead to the implementation of the precautionary principle. They also contest the potential of this form of biotechnology for developing countries, saying that it 'traps farmers into dependence on certain seed companies and pharmaceutical products.
The preceding petition, defending the rights of French researchers to carry out GMO field trials, which are described as 'indispensable to research into plant biology and the improvement of plants', called on the French government to 'take responsibility' for the continuation of such research.
For further information on the petition calling for a public debate, please visit:
For further information on the petition defending GMO research, please visit: