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29 Nov, 2013 12:28

Anti-Monsanto activists assaulted in Argentina

At least 20 people have been injured in clashes in Argentina between union members and environmental activists, who were protesting the construction of a plant by the biotech giant Monsanto.

The clashes happened outside of the construction site in Cordoba province on Thursday.

Some 60 workers from the Argentine Construction Union attacked the protester camp, beating the activists and stealing from them, Environmentalist Vanina Barboza charged in comments to local TV.

The union denied any involvement in the scuffles while Adrian Vilalba a Monsanto executive, blamed the environmentalist of damaging workers’ cars.

Construction of the corn-processing plant was disrupted in October, when the activists started to block roads to the site, which eventually put the project on hold.

The activists are concerned that once finished, the plant would process Monsanto-made genetically modified corn, with the products ending up in the local market.

Workers say the blockade is damaging their jobs.

The clashes are being investigated by a local prosecutor’s office, the state news agency Telam reported.

Distrust toward Monsanto’s farming practices was fueled last month in Argentina after an AP report linked the chemical glyphosate, used in Monsanto’s Round-Up pesticide, with health problems in the country, including cancer, thyroid disorders and chronic respiratory illness.

The company, which insists that the chemical is harmless, dismissed the report, saying the credibility of its conclusions is doubtful.