Grapes sans charisma

Published: Monday 31 October 2005

How would you like a sip of French wine...genetically modified (gm)? The fear in the alification mars the product's appeal. France, famous for its resistance to gm food, recently planted its first gm vines in Alsace in a bid to fight the "court noue" virus that attacks nearly a third of the country's vines. While local winegrowers oppose the move, fearing contamination of vineyards and adverse effects on the industry's credibility, the state-financed National Institute for Agricultural Research, which is planting the plants, says, they are safe. The institute's head Jean Masson assures, " The environmental risk is nil as we have taken all safety measures."

"It makes me is imposed on everyone without us being informed about the risk...we fear for our vines," rues Pierre-Paul Humbrecht, a bio-wine maker. In 1999, tests on gm vines were stopped following strong protests in Champagne. This time, they have dug a hole, covered the natural ground and planted gm vines on soil brought from outside the area. Surrounding the gm plants are 1,500 non- gm plants.

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