MILAN (AFX) - Monsanto Co and Pioneer Hi-Bred are urging farmers to oppose demands by the Piedmont regional authority that they destroy genetically modified crops, said La Repubblica on Sunday.
The newspaper cited the leader of a farmers' organisation, after farmers began meeting legal demands for them to plough up fields of maize grown from genetically modified seed, it said.
"Representatives of the two companies are contacting farmers one by one to convince them not to destroy the fields," said Giorgio Ferrero, from the Coldiretti farmers organisation.
"In exchange, they are offering free legal assistance and asking them to sign a mandate to appeal the order that obliges them to destroy the crop," he said in the newspaper.
However, the Confagricoltura organisation was cited as saying that about 30 farmers have asked their lawyers to fight the destruction demands, it said.
The Piedmont region's president Enzo Ghigo's order for the destruction of the maize was welcomed by farm minister Gianni Alemanno, who said the decision was "courageous", it said.
The newspaper said criminal authorities are investigating Pioneer Hi-Bred Italia's chief executive Giuseppe Manara for breaching a 1971 seed law, updated in 2001 for genetically modified seeds.