Protestors have destroyed genetically modified grapevines being trialled in eastern France by the country's national research agency.

Anti-genetic modification (GM) protestors destroyed the vines at the agency's Haut-Rhin research plant in eastern France last weekend.

The research agency, INRA, had been cultivating grapevines genetically modified to resist the Grapevine Fanleaf virus, known in French as court-noué, France's agriculture ministry said yesterday (10 September).

Grapevine Fanleaf virus is described by INRA as an "important and widespread virus".

French agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire condemned the protesters. "This sabotage weakens our research capability," he said, adding that the trial was taking place in a controlled environment.

As of last year, 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$218,777).