An Italian farmer is on trial for planting EU-approved MON810 corn in April 2010.
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GAIN Report Number: IT1210
Italian farmer on trial for planting GM corn
Biotechnology - GE Plants and Animals
An Italian farmer is on trial for planting EU-approved MON810 corn in April 2010. The farmer is
charged with violating a 2001 Italian decree that requires additional authorization from the Italian
Ministry of Agriculture to cultivate EU-approved biotech crops in Italy. Final judgment is expected
in November 2012.
In April 2010, Mr. Giorgio Fidenato, a farmer from Friuli in northeastern Italy, publicly claimed to
have planted 12 acres of MON810 corn on his farm. Following his announcement,
environmentalists criminally damaged the headquarters of the farmers? association Mr. Fidenato is
president of. Authorities then seized the two fields planted in MON810 corn. Later, environmental
activists (reported to be from Greenpeace) destroyed one of the seized fields. Authorities
harvested the second one and stored the corn, which will either be destroyed or returned to Mr.
Fidenato, depending on the court?s decision.
Reportedly, the attorney asked to issue a penal decree, which would force Mr. Fidenato to pay a
fine, waste the GM corn crop, and take his field back. Mr. Fidenato is accused of violating Italian
decree 212/2001 --which has not been notified to the EU and requires the need for further
authorization and a strict set of regulations, including coexistence before cultivating any biotech
crop, including EU-approved crops like MON810 (Decision 98/294/EC). The trial started in January
2011, with five different organizations acting against Mr. Fidenato?s: the Region Friuli, the
Pordenone province, Coldiretti (the largest Italian farmers? union), Slow Food, and Codacons (a
consumers? group). The charge could bring to 6 months to 3 years in jail or a ?50,000 fine. The
judge eventually proposed a ?25,000 fine and no jail. Mr. Fidenato?s defense is that he acted
within EU law and that the Italian decree contradicts the EU law. He also filed charges against the
environmentalists who damaged the farmers? association headquarters and destroyed the corn
In early spring 2011, Mr. Fidenato announced his plan to plant MON810 again. However, this time,
the Public Prosecutor?s office seized Fidenato?s fields, facilities, and equipment. Mr. Fidenato then
filed an appeal to the Italian Supreme Court, arguing the seizure was illegal.
In January 2012, the court took (unspecified) disciplinary actions against the environmentalists
who damaged Fidenato farmers? association headquarters. Additionally, the court fined
Greenpeace ?86,000 for destroying Fidenato?s field. Recently, the Italian Supreme Court ruled
that the seizure of Fidenato?s farm and equipment were legal, based on his stated intent to plant
MON810. Final judgment is expected in November 2012.