Environmental activists stormed a field of genetically modified potatoes in Belgium Sunday, breaking through a security cordon in a raid that left police and protesters injured, authorities and organisers said.
Police said they briefly detained around 40 people taking part in the “Field Liberation Movement”, which aimed to destroy the research crop in the northwestern town of Wetteren, according to Belga news agency.
Around 10 officers were slightly injured, according to police, while organisers said eight on their side were manhandled.
More than 200 people took part in the protest but only a few managed to sneak through fences and a police line protecting the field, said Franciska Soler, of the Volunteer Reapers of France which participated in the event.
“A certain number of potato plants were destroyed,” Soler told AFP.
Jo Bury, the director of the VIB science research institute that planted the potatoes, said around 100 scientists had tried to talk the activists out of raiding the field.
While GM foods are common in places such as the United States and Brazil, they are highly divisive in Europe.
Just two GM crops are authorised on European soil — a maize strain for animal feed and a potato for paper-making.
An internal survey conducted by the European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, showed last month that 13 out of 27 EU states see no benefit from GM crops.