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Greenpeace - GE Crops Out Of Control in Romania

Genetically engineered organisms out of control in Romania Ex-Monsanto director speaks out

Bucharest - Massive illegal cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops threatens farmers and the economy in Romania. At a Greenpeace press conference today in Bucharest, Monsanto's former general manager in Romania warned that Romanian authorities have totally lost control over genetically modified organisms in the country.

During a research tour in Romania, Greenpeace discovered illegal growing of GE soya in ten counties of the country's total 42. Greenpeace presented findings (1) that prove that Romanian authorities have lost control over the situation. Romania, a future member of the EU, is the only country in Europe where planting of the controversial Roundup Ready (RR) soya is allowed. The country has the largest GE-cultivated landscape in Europe; officially half the 140,000 hectares of soya planted in 2005 is registered to be GE. However, according to representatives of farmers' associations and even biotech giant Monsanto's former Romanian manager, up to 90% of soya is GE. The core of the problem is due to genetically engineered crops contaminating the traditional cultures, as well as the illegal selling of GE soya seeds.

Gabriel Paun, Greenpeace Central-Eastern European (CEE) campaigner in Romania said: "In the past few months we have found GE potatoes, GE plums and now it turns out that even the commercial planting of GE soya happens illegally. What's next? The Romanian government must act immediately and take back control of the situation."

Mr. Dragos Dima, former Monsanto general manager in Romania agrees with the fears. Speaking at the press conference, he said: "Such a huge surface of uncertified GM soya is not tolerable due to lack of monitoring and control systems. I left the company because I expressed my concerns regarding the introduction of GM technology in Romania. I believed that neither Romania nor the company were ready and able to monitor and control the GM technology. Unfortunately, the management has not listened to my concerns and the situation today shows a total lack of control over the GM technology." Mr. Dima left Monsanto in December 1998, while GE soy was introduced in Romania in 1999.

"Monsanto knowingly pushed Romania in a technology that had to lead to a situation out of control. Romanian farmers and food companies now have to suffer the economic consequences," added Paun.

Since their introduction in 1996, GE crops have contaminated food, feed, seed and the environment right across the globe. Worldwide over 100 incidents of illegal or unlabelled GE contamination have been documented in 27 countries on 5 continents - and those represent only the recorded incidents. For more information visit http://www.gmocontaminationregister.org

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation, which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to force the solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Notes to editors (1) The report "A Documentation of Contamination and Illegal GM Soya cultivation in Romania" in Romanian language is based on findings of Greenpeace in August 2005. Analytical results mentioned in the report were done by the Umweltbundesamt, an independent, EU-certified laboratory for polymerase chain reactions, PCRs, in Vienna, Austria. PCR analysis is a genetic test for plants or food to see whether genetic modifications are present in a specific sample.

(2) If they want to plant Roundup Ready soya, farmers only need to register with the authorities. It only is considered illegal as if they don't register.

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