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French Court Fines Militant Farmer

October 22, 2002

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FOIX, France (AP) _ Militant French farmer Jose Bove was fined $2,923 Tuesday for mowing down a field of genetically modified crops in southern France two years ago, court officials said.

The anti-globalization crusader was one of nine people convicted by a court in the town of Foix for their roles in destroying an experimental colza, an oilseed plant, field in nearby Gaudies in April 2000.

Eight other defendants were fined $389 each, court officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

They were among about 200 people who took part in the ransacking of the 5-acre field owned by Cetiom, a specialist in oilseeds research.

During the trial, which started Sept. 17, Bove and the other defendants said they had the ``right to live in a healthy environment″ in defending the attack on a field of colza, a crop used to make cooking oil.

The nine denounced the use of genetically modified crops as a ``totalitarian″ mode of production that excludes organic farming and biodiversity.

Prosecutors did not seek a jail term against Bove, but recommended he be fined for destroying the crops.

Bove, a sheep farmer and anti-globalization activist, gained attention for leading a group of protesters who dismantled a McDonald’s restaurant under construction in southern Millau, near his farm. In August, he completed 61-day jail term for the rampage.

Bove is facing another 14 months in prison for two earlier convictions _ a six-month term handed down for destroying another genetically modified rice field in 1999 and an eight-month term for a 1998 conviction. He has appealed the 1999 verdict to France’s highest court, the Court of Cassation.

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