Massive police presence as activists occupy Monsanto GE facility
Trebes, France 13th April 2006: Massive police presence as Greenpeace, Jose Bove from Faucheurs Volontaires and Confederation Paysanne occupied Monsanto's seed facility in Trebes, France. Over 75 activists have occupied the facility and are currently holding a citizens inspection in the search for genetically engineered (GE) maize seeds. They have demanded that Monsanto and the French authorities stop import and distribution of GE maize seed into France.
"We are here to demand that the French authorities ban GE seed and in the interim corporate conglomerate Monsanto must stop hiding where these environmentally destructive maize seeds are to be grown. Farmers and consumers have the right to know where GE seeds are entering agriculture and the food-chain, so they can protect themselves against genetic contamination." Said Jose Bove from Faucheurs Volontaires.
The 'GE free citizens inspection unit' consisting of over 100 conventional and organic farmers, members of the public and activists from across Europe were welcomed by over 50 policemen, including some with police dogs. But over 75 activists managed to occupy the facility affectively shutting it down. The protesters aim to stop distribution of GE maize seeds, and to influence the new GE law currently being discussed in the French parliament. The new law, if passed, would allow massive genetic contamination of both organic and conventional maize. (1)
"We are putting Monsanto on notice, along with each and every Biotech firm that is contaminating our fields and our food supply now - or has future plans to introduce GE seeds - this is the beginning, we will not stop until France is declared a GE free zone." Said Olivier Keller, national secretary of the Confederation Paysanne.
"GE is harming the environment and is causing genetic contamination of the food-chain and agriculture, thus threatening the right of farmers and consumers to grow and eat GE free food. Recently thousands have taken in to the streets in Vienna, France and other countries around the world to protest against these unjust practices. Governments must now listen to their people and 'cease and desist' on the importation and growing of GE seed." Said Geert Ritsema, Greenpeace International GE campaigner.
Yesterday the Slovakian inspectorate of environment published a decision that states Monsanto will not distribute there GE maize for the 2006 growing season, effectively shutting out, sales of GE maize for the next year. The halt was put in place, due in part, to pressure from Greenpeace on the Slovakian inspectorate to answer growing concerns about environmental damage and contamination caused by GE maize. (2)
"Resistance against GE in our fields and food has been growing globally since its release onto the market nearly 10 years ago. In Europe alone 172 regions have declared themselves GE free, and around the world many other governments, farmers and citizens are uniting to keep their countries GE free." Concluded, Geert Ritsema Greenpeace International GE campaigner.
Notes to Editors
(1) It is expected that a draft of the genetically modified organism law will have its final reading in the French Parliament soon. The draft law would allow the presence of 0.9 percent of GE maize in all maize fields in France. According to Greenpeace and independent lawyers this will not only lead to massive genetic contamination of the French countryside, but it will also undermine freedom of choice for consumers and farmers and violate current EU legislation.
(2) On April 12th the inspectorate of environment in Slovakia published a decision halting - for the 2006 growing season - any commercial sales of genetically engineered (GE) maize seeds of the type MON810 produced by US based biotech giant Monsanto. GE maize variety MON 810 is the only genetically engineered crop that is allowed for cultivation throughout the EU.