French Monsanto research site damaged in suspected arson attack
RENNES, France (Reuters) - A Monsanto (MON.N) research centre in western France suffered heavy fire damage in a suspected arson attack early Wednesday morning, the official in charge of the site said.
The official, Jakob Witten, said police investigators "strongly suspect it was a crime as no electrical or other sources were found."
The fire was ignited from two different places at the site, where about 10 people work and which is specialised in maize research. The smell of petrol lingered near the building, which had heavy damage in its reception hall and offices.
"No Monsanto sites in Europe have so far been the victim of fires of criminal origin, this is unprecedented violence," Witten said.
The U.S. agribusiness group is the frequent target of criticism in France over concerns about genetically modified crops it has developed.
The government said last month it would use a new European opt-out scheme to ensure a ban on the cultivation of GM crops in France remains in place.
(Reporting by; Pierre-Henri Allain; writing by Leigh Thomas)