Brussels, 11 Oct 2004
The heads of four leading French research organisations have condemned the destruction of field based trials of genetically modified (GM) crops, arguing that such research is needed in order to solve unanswered questions surrounding the technology.
The joint statement defends GM field trials, arguing that they are only used sparingly and are carried out transparently and in line with strict regulations. They are used either to obtain or evaluate fundamental knowledge on plant biology, guarantee the quality of varieties sold in France, or evaluate risks for the environment, the statement adds.
'Such field trials are the final means, after prior greenhouse experimentation and mathematical modelling, of verifying results acquired in artificial conditions,' the research heads state. 'This step is needed, for the benefit of all who feel concerned by GMOs and for answering questions regarding both the hopes raised by GMOs and the anxieties that might justifiably be induced by this technology.'
The statement continues: 'For the national interest of all in the short, medium and long term, we strongly condemn the destruction of trial GM crops and call for dialogue: without violence and in a climate of respect for the positions of different parties.'
In August, several hundred protesters calling themselves the 'volunteer reapers' destroyed two field trials of genetically modified corn - the latest example of what has proved to be the regular disruption of experimental crop trials in France. In response, the French Agriculture Minister Hervé Gaymard attacked their actions, saying that they had destroyed years of research for hundreds of researchers.
The latest statement in defence of GM field trials is signed by the directors-general of the Institute de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), and the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), as well as the president of the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA).