Two hectares of experimental sunflower crops were destroyed not far from Rodez by about sixty voluntary mowers, an anti-GMO movement. However, these sunflower crops were not produced from GMOs: their goal was to produce a variety resistant to a pest fungus, so as to reduce the use of pesticides currently used against the disease. These rampages are extremely frequent for French varietal research and the seed industry but are only occasionally condemned.
In ten minutes, one to three years of research and knowledge was crushed. However, the Reapers obviously got the wrong target. They invoked, in their leaflet, opposition to seeds resistant to herbicides … But the destroyed crops were not herbicide resistant.
In the past ten years, only three trials for crop destruction have actually taken place …. Only one resulted in a conviction: three reapers received a three-month suspended prison sentence and 11,000 euro-fines after several appeals—a sum never paid.
“We are being asked to speed up agroecological research, but this unpunished rampage cripples years of experimentation. It needs to be taken care of …. Justice must be relentless, because as it stands, nothing dissuades those involved,” laments Rachel Blumel, director general of the French Seed Union.
[Editor’s note: This article was published in French and has been translated and edited for clarity.]