Protesters break into farm lab, make off with suspected GMO samples

ROME, - Agence France Presse 3 March 2001

Militants opposed to research into genetically modified organisms (GMOs) broke into a farm laboratory in northeast Italy Saturday as Group of Eight (G8) environment ministers met in Trieste to find a compromise over a UN treaty on global warming.

Some 50 protesters in white coats broke open the doors to the lab, run by a regional agency for agricultural development at Pozzuolo del Friuli near Udine where studies and experiments on transgenic seeds were said to be carried out. Seed samples, notably of maize, that were taken
by militants would be analyzed by independent laboratories, Ansa news agency cited one of the militants, Beppe Caccia, as saying. Police did not intervene during the 15-minute protest and no further incidents were reported.

Demonstrators held banners reading "Stop GMOs" and "Stop Frankenfood experiments" in Italian. A regional environmental leader, Paolo Ciani, later called the protest a "serious act". Ciani, who is also deputy president of the northeastern region around Trieste and Udine, said that no transgenic experiments had been carried out at Pozzuolo del Friuli for the last three years, at the specific request of the regional government in Trieste.

But Caccia said that protesters would not be gagged. "The protest this morning is a slap in the face of the monstrous and disproportionate security apparatus set up for the G8 environmental
meeting," he added. "Biotechnologies are okay if they serve to improve life as in the biomedical sector but they are unacceptable in farming where there is no need to produce more," he said. "Today's output is huge; it's the distribution between rich and poor countries in the world
which is unbalanced."