By Francine Bavay, Yves Contassot, Renaud De Wreden,
François Dufour, Fabienne Glasson, Philippe
Matet, Annette Rimbert, and Xavier Timoner
Wednesday 18 January 2006
here for external link
December 9, 2005, is a historic date: it's the
political birthday for the Charter of the Environment which was entered
into the Constitution in February of the same year. GMOs became
literally unconstitutional. On December 9th, in an unprecedented
decision, the Orléans criminal court - followed by the Versailles court
on January 13 for other deliberate reapers - discharged us for having
deliberately reaped Monsanto's transgenic corn crops in 2004. The court
recognized the "necessity" of our action. This necessity,
according to the court, results from the "present danger of the
uncontrolled spread of GMO genes, the dissemination of which had been
authorized, contrary to the constitutional right to a healthy
In consequence, this is the beginning of the end for
the impunity of France's transgenic industry; it's a subpoena addressed
to the French State; it's an indictment of its cowardice. The
illegitimacy of GMOs was established before; their illegality is finally
recognized because their destruction is legally qualified as a
necessity. By virtue of the Charter of the Environment inscribed in the
Constitution, a right to neutralize GMOs planted in the field has just
been affirmed by the French legal system. This decision finally forces
all actors, beginning with the state, to take an irreversible position.
The French authorities have shown themselves over time
to be extraordinarily weak, hypocritical, and inconstant. Successive
governments have abandoned the GMO question to contradictory winds from
Europe, scientists, public opinion, and, as punishment for this
cowardice, the justice system! First of all, the European Union, which
imposed a moratorium in 1999, then its lifting in 2004, but also a
protective directive France did not respect; then, scientists whose
opinions followed one another with no similarities, proving daily the
extent of uncertainty; finally, the labor and union movements, since
France - one of the leaders in experimental GMO agriculture as of the
end of the 1980s - experienced no public debate on the subject until
1996 and that, only thanks to citizen vigilance.
The Orléans decision allows us to make up for lost
time and to go still further. Let's look around us: numerous
governments, scalded by great public health scandals and paying
attention to their citizens' opinion, have taken the lead and
demonstrated extreme caution. Germany is a case in point, with a very
protective and deterrent November 2004 law that invests total
responsibility in the case of contamination with the producers and
cultivators of GMO. Also in November 2004, Italy published a decree on
the coexistence of crops and imposed a moratorium until the end of 2005.
Quite recently, Denmark provided for the constitution of an obligatory
national indemnification fund GMO cultivators must subscribe to, at the
rate of 13.4 Euros per hectare [2.47 acres] per year, in order to
compensate for the absence of private insurance for contaminations.
Finally, the Swiss - already endowed with the very strict 2004 Genlex -
have just voted by referendum in favor of a five year moratorium on GMO
cultivation, repudiating their present government's position. Austria,
which took over the Union presidency and which will organize the first
European conference on GMO, finally deigned to consult its citizens in
1997 and prohibits transgenic crops.
In all the great democratic countries, governments
have taken the measure of the GMO stakes: nothing less than an attempt
to privatize the global food base (soy, rice, corn, wheat) and genetic
patrimony via brand names. Unique in its kind, France promoted GMO in
retreat, through a series of faits accomplis. Now that's all finished.
Nature is a whole that imposes choices. We invoke a state of necessity
everywhere GMO plants are cultivated or tested in the field. From now
on, every citizen has the right to destroy them, and the government has
a duty to prohibit them. We demand the creation of an indemnification
fund for proven contaminations, a citizen reorientation for research
grants, prohibition of any new GMO planting and the neutralization of
any existing crops, and finally, organization in the coming months of a
national referendum on the question of GMO.
For Gandhi, the function of non-violent action was to
make the hidden violence of institutions, of the "established
disorder" visible; in the same way, we have wanted to make visible
the violence done to peasants, citizens, science, democracy, and to the
simple duty to govern. The French legal system has finally understood
that so that we may all grasp the consequences.
Francine Bavay, Yves Contassot, Renaud De Wreden, François Dufour, Fabienne Glasson, Philippe
Matet, Annette Rimbert, and Xavier
Timoner are deliberate GMO crop reapers.
Translation: t r u t h o u t French
language correspondent Leslie Thatcher.
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