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NZ Skipper in dramatic blockade of GE soy ship.

Tue, 27 Apr 2004

NZ Skipper of Rainbow Warrior arrested in dramatic blockade of GE soy ship.

Derek Nicholls, New Zealand captain of the Greenpeace Flagship the Rainbow Warrior, has been arrested in Port Kembla near Sydney after blocking the entry of a shipment of genetically engineered soy meal.

The protest is part of a global campaign that Greenpeace is running against GE crops - most of which enter the food chain unannounced as animal feed. "In both Australia and New Zealand imported soy is the largest source of GE contamination in the food chain and the biggest single importer and user of GE is Inghams poultry company." Said GE campaigner Steve Abel.

Up to 300,000 tonnes of GE soy sneaks into Australia each year. "The poultry industry is the backbone of the trade in genetically engineered soy in Australia and Ingham's are the largest single user of GE," says Abel. "The same is true in New Zealand with Inghams importing up to 50,000 tonnes of GE contaminated soy each year."

New Zealand's biggest poultry company Tegel established a non-GE soy feed policy in 2001 and continues to import up to 60,000 tonnes of certified non-GE soy annually.

Greenpeace New Zealand has just begun a campaign for McDonalds, who use Ingham chicken, to commit to a non-GE feed policy for all their poultry and animal products. "McDonalds and Inghams should stop using GE ingredients and feed out of a commitment to customer preference (1), concerns about potential health impacts and for the good of the environment," said Abel. "GE soy production in the US and Argentina has led to increased chemical use, lower yields, herbicide resistant weeds and contamination of conventional crops." McDonalds already has a Europe wide policy of excluding GE in food and poultry feed.

Australia's 'Elite Water Police' boarded the Rainbow Warrior around 11pm, following today's actions against the Rhein and read out charges to the boat master. The Kerikeri captain of the Rainbow Warrior replied that he understood the charges but was unwilling to move the boat from its current mooring adding that if the police wanted the Warrior moved they would have to do it themselves. The Warrior held her position in Port Kembla for eight hours. However a tug dragged her from her position at 12.30am to a holding dock. She has now been released and is sailing to Melbourne.

Rainbow Warrior captain, Derek Nicholls, was charged with failing to comply with a direction by the harbour master and entering a pilotage port without taking on a pilot. He has been bailed to appear in Port Kembla local court in June.

The Greenpeace trans-Tasman activities are part of a global stepping-up of the international environmental group's campaign against the spread of GE crops, which includes ongoing mobilisation of consumers against GE food. Soy is the most widely grown GE crop. Over 80% of GE crops are used for animal feed and nearly half the world's soy is now genetically engineered.

"There is clearly an urgent need to stop GE soy," said Steve Abel. "At every opportunity, Greenpeace will confront GE soy, be it along export routes or in the food chain. In Brazil, we are at the forefront of the battle against GE soy, and in China we are working to protect the homeland of soy from genetic contamination."

The Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior, currently in Australia, is due to arrive in New Zealand on May 12 for the New Zealand leg of its GE Free trans-Tasman tour.

For more details contact: Australian Campaigner on board Rainbow Warrior Jeremy Tager 96 0438 679 263 Media Officers: Louise Fraser on 0409 993 568. New Zealand Contacts Greenpeace Campaigner Steve Abel - 021 565 175; Greenpeace Communications Officer Suzette Jackson - 09 630 6317 ext 849

For photos & videos contact: AV officer Peter Morris on 02 9263 0350 or 0401 909 069. Visit http://www.greenpeace.org.au or http://www.truefood.org.au for more information

(1) Independent research done for Tegel found that 75% of consumers wanted chickens that had not been fed GE soy meal, NZ Herald, 29 August 2001. Please Note: Ingham claim that their next shipment of soy meal into New Zealand, due in June, is non-GE soy from Brazil. However, according to Ingham, the shipment is not certified as non-GE so it could be significantly GE contaminated. Inghams also have no commitment to sourcing non-GE soy now or into the future. This unverified shipment cannot legitimately be used to claim a non-GE policy by Inghams or McDonalds.


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