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Antiglobalist vandal is headed to prison

A star of antiglobalization has fallen.

Jose Bove, the sheep farmer and convicted vandal whose mission is to save France from fast food and free trade, is to serve 14 months in prison after the country's highest court on Tuesday threw out his appeal.

The media-savvy Bove, 49, protests against globalization at economic summit meetings and is sometimes likened to the French cartoon hero Asterix, leading defiant Gauls against today's Romans. He attracted worldwide attention three years ago when he led a group of French farmers in smashing windows in a McDonald's in Millau, near his home in southern France.

Later that year, he attacked a field of genetically modified rice at a research station near the southern city of Montpellier. He was sentenced to six months in prison, and it was an appeal of that sentence that France's Supreme Court of Appeal in Paris rejected on Tuesday.

As someone who supplies sheep's milk to makers of Roquefort cheese, he also has opposed U.S. trade tariffs against French luxury foods and multinational corporations.

The court's decision means that Bove must also serve a separate eight-month sentence for a similar attack on gene-modified crops in France in 1998. He also faces a $7,600 fine. His fall actually began earlier this year when he served six weeks in jail for the McDonald's attack.

Reached briefly by phone, Bove said that he was surprised by the verdict. Asked whether he would go to jail, he replied: "We'll see. Now is the time for mobilization."

Genetically modified crops are common in the United States. But the French, like many other Europeans, remain suspicious of using the new genetic technology in agriculture. Last July, rejecting appeals from the United States, the European Parliament voted to put labels on all foods from European Union countries that contain even the smallest amount of a genetically modified substance.

After the ruling on Tuesday, Bove vowed to fight imprisonment by asking President Jacques Chirac for a presidential pardon.

"The ball is in his court now," Bove said in a statement.