This Day in Resistance History: French Farmers Destroy GMO Crops
The farmer’s movement in France had done acts of resistance before the January 8, 1998 action and numerous since, including the dismantling of a McDonalds restaurant that was being built in a rural community. The farmers showed up one day and took the building apart and then used the materials for barn construction.
The 1998 action was targeting the GMO seed stock from the multinational company Novartis, one of the largest GMO corporations in the world.
Several French farmers were arrested for this action and some spent up to four months in jail. Actions like these are well documented in the book, The World is Not For Sale: Farmers Against Junk Food.
Numerous farmer groups around the world have been resisting the introduction of GMO seeds into their country and communities for nearly 20 years now. The struggle has been a difficult one, since the WTO (World Trade Organization) has decided in favor of GMO use and the right of GMO corporations to go after farmers for monetary compensation, because their crops have been infected by neighboring GMO crops. In North America, this practice of extortion has been defended by NAFTA regulations.
While the January 8, 1998 action by French farmers has not diminished the amount of GMO crops being cultivated in their country, it did demonstrate a clear tactical victory. Instead of just protesting the use of GMO crops, the farmers took matters into their own hands and destroyed the GMO seeds, with the intent of making it clear that they did not want this in their communities.
This type of action, where people physically remove or destroy something they find destructive to their freedom and autonomy is an old tactic and one that activist around the world should utilize when necessary. We must abandon the notion that “private property” is sacred, especially when private property is used to destroy the environment, make us sick and make money for the very few.
Let us celebrate the action of those that take matters into their own hands and remove harm from their lives and their communities.