Italy court fines farmer for growing GM maize

* Farmer says growing GM maize legal

* Italy is yet to call a meeting on GM co-existence rules

MILAN/ROME, Sept 28 (BestGrowthStock) – An Italian court has imposed
a 25,000 euro ($33,670) fine on a farmer for illegally growing
genetically modified maize and ordered him to destroy the crop,
but the farmer said on Tuesday he would appeal the decision.

Italy has banned cultivation of genetically modified (GM)
crops pending approval of rules on co-existence of GM and
traditional crops. Public opinion in the country is strongly
opposed to GM organisms, which are seen as less healthy.

A judge in the town of Pordenone issued the ruling after a
scientific confirmation that Monsanto’s (MON.N: ) MON 810 maize
had been cultivated on a plot of land in the north-eastern
region of Friuli Venezia Giulia and had contaminated some nearby
fields, although within accepted levels in the European Union.

The decision, announced both by supporters of GM crops and
by fierce opponents at Italy’s Greenpeace, comes as a
Europe-wide debate on GM cultivation heats up.

Many of the European Union’s largest governments reiterated
on Monday their opposition to proposals to let EU states decide
for themselves whether to grow or ban GM Crops. [ID:nLDE68Q14N]

Giorgio Fidenato, chairman of pro-GMO association
Agricoltori Federati who planted the GM maize to speed up
approval of GM crop cultivation in Italy, said he would fight
the decision and prove he had done nothing wrong.

“I have planted maize on my property and, therefore, my
actions were fully legitimate and legal,” Fidenato said in an
audio interview available on the web site of pro-GM movement
Movimento Liberatorio (www.movimentoliberatorio.it)

“The true legal battle starts now,” Fidenato said, adding
that his lawyers have 15 days to appeal the ruling.

But Greenpeace activists said cultivation of GM maize in the
Pordenone province had breached a law, which could carry a
punishment of up to three years in jail or a fine of up to
51,700 euros.
“Finally, legality is brought back to Friuli,” said
Greenpeace anti-GMO activist Federica Ferrario.

Italy’s regional agriculture chiefs, who were expected to
meet on Thursday to give their opinions on a draft of
co-existence rules, have postponed the meeting, and the new date
is yet to be announced.

($1=.7426 Euro)

(Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova and Massimiliano Di
Giorgio, editing by Jane Baird)

Italy court fines farmer for growing GM maize