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Getting Corny: Environmentalists Seek 'Agricultural Asylum'

MADRID — Environmentalists dressed as giant ears of corn Tuesday asked for "agricultural asylum" in the French embassy in Madrid in a protest over genetically modified crops.

Environmentalist rallying against genetically-modified corn. (AFP image) The environmental organisation Friends of the Earth organised the symbolic act to protest Spain's "large-scale" production of genetically modified corn, which is banned in France.

Around 20 protesters from several European countries and dressed as corn cobs demonstrated outside the French embassy in central Madrid.

They handed over a petition to one of the diplomats, saying they would "rather flee to France than be genetically modified."

"We want to condemn the fact that Spain is the only country in Europe to grow genetically modified corn, without any measures to protect against contamination" of the crop with non-GM corn, a spokeswoman for Friends of the Earth said.

Several European countries, including France and Germany, have invoked an EU safeguard procedure to bar a strain of genetically modified corn produced by US agricultural giant Monsanto, after a watchdog said it had doubts about the product.

GM crops are a fiercely contested issue in Europe, pitting agribusiness corporations against a powerful green lobby.

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