Italy Court Fines Farmer For Growing GM Corn – for Oct. 11, 2010

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milan/rome |reuters

An Italian court has imposed a 25,000-euro (C$35,145) fine on a farmer for illegally growing genetically modified maize (corn) and ordered him to destroy the crop, but the farmer said on Sept. 28 he would appeal the decision.

Italy has banned cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops pending approval of rules on coexistence of GM and traditional crops. Public opinion in the country is strongly opposed to GM organisms, which are seen as less healthy.

A judge in the town of Pordenone issued the ruling after a scientific confirmation that Monsanto’s MON 810 maize had been cultivated on a plot of land in the north-eastern region of Friuli Venezia Giulia and had contaminated some nearby fields, although within accepted levels in the European Union.

The decision, announced both by supporters of GM crops and by fierce opponents at Italy’s Greenpeace, comes as a Europe-wide debate on GM cultivation heats up.

Many of the European Union’s largest governments reiterated on Sept. 27 their opposition to proposals to let EU states decide for themselves whether to grow or ban GM Crops.

Giorgio Fidenato, chairman of pro-GMO association Agricoltori Federati, who planted the GM maize to speed up approval of GM crop cultivation in Italy, said he would fight the decision and prove he had done nothing wrong.

“I have planted maize on my property and, therefore, my actions were fully legitimate and legal,” said Fidenato, who plans to appeal.

But Greenpeace activists said cultivation of GM maize in the Pordenone province had breached a law, which could carry a punishment of up to three years in jail or a fine of up to 51,700 euros (C$72,500).

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