An Italian agronomist, frustrated by the government’s refusal to approve the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops, has apparently engaged in an act of civil disobedience by planting two fields of GM corn and publicizing his action with a news conference and YouTube® video. Environmentalists report edly responded by descending on the fields near Vivaro, which had been seized by government officials; Greenpeace activists cut off the tassels in an effort to prevent the dissemination of pollen, and environmentalists with Ya Basta trampled the crop leaving signs stating “Danger—Contaminated—G.M.O.”
According to a news source, while the European Union has approved the use of this particular seed, Italy requires farmers to submit any request to plant GM crops for government approval. To date, the Ministry of Agriculture has not apparently approved any GM crop for planting. The GM debate is particularly heated in Italy, where farmers are known for their specialized organic and heritage crops. They are reportedly concerned about cross contamination and the loss of their crops’ organic designation and unique flavor. The rebellious agronomist, who may face a prison sentence or fine, has claimed that an army of Italian farmers is prepared to plant GM corn to force the government into addressing the corn borer problems plaguing conventional crops. Those who damaged the crop are also facing criminal penalties. See The New York Times, August 23, 2010.