Les Faucheurs Volontaires protest against genetically modified grapevines
October 4, 2010
In a country where the wine industry is bound by tradition, activists have not taken kindly to vineyards experimenting with genetically modified grapevines. The European Conference on Genetically Modified Free Regions reports that 70 members of a French environmentalist group known as Les Faucheurs Volontaires ("The Voluntary Reapers") broke into a vineyard experimenting with genetically modified grapevines in Colmar, France. They dug up and cut apart the vines, causing about $1.56 million worth of damage. As reported by the French National Institute for Agronomic Research, the research project was taxpayer funded.
The vines were grown by the French National Institute for Agronomic Research, which reports that the GMO trial vineyard was part of a seven-year experiment to fight the Grapevine fanleaf virus (GFLV). This virus, which has no cure, can reduce grape yields by ten percent. The vines had genetically modified rootstocks containing a gene resistant to GFLV. The attack completely wiped out the project; when police arrived 20 minutes later, there was only an empty patch of dirt.
As described in a press release issued by Les Faucheurs Volontaires, the attack was an attempt to stop the government from using public funding to research genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The recent attack was not an isolated incident; in September 2009, a single activist vandalized the very same vineyard.