France trials GM vines

France trials GM vines

France's Government has defied campaign groups by restarting a trial of genetically modified (GM) grapevines previously sabotaged by protestors.

National research agency INRA has restarted the field trial in Alsace, eastern France.

Its four-year experiment is one of several avenues INRA is exploring in order to find an effective treatment for Grapevine Fanleaf virus, known in French as 'court-noué'.

Protestors destroyed INRA's original trial of court-noué-resistant grapevines last year, just as the agency was reaching the end of its five-year research.

INRA said that it would take "all necessary measures" to avoid cross-contamination with vineyards in the Haut-Rhin area of Alsace.

French agriculture union Confederation Paysanne, which has been heavily linked to the destruction of GM crop trials across France in the past decade, called on INRA to find alternative ways of tackling court-noué.

France has conducted five field trials on GM grapevines since 1994, according to European Commission figures. Germany and Italy are the only other EU member states to have conducted a trial.

The European Commission said this week that it would allow individual member states to develop their own policy on GM crops.

Anyone found guilty of destroying GM crop trials in France faces up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of EUR150,000 (US$191,000).