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Crop circles appear on three continents

Crop circles appear on three continents to protest against GE crops

Barcelona, Manila, Mexico City October 3rd: Greenpeace activists today created giant crop circles in maize fields on three different continents (1) to mark the beginning of a global campaign to protect maize – one of the world’s most important staple foods – against contamination from genetically engineered (GE) or transgenic varieties. The crop circles - large enough to be clearly visible from the air - appeared in fields in Spain, the Philippines and Mexico.

Geert Ritsema, GE Campaigner, Greenpeace International said: “Today’s tide of protests marks the launch of a global campaign to protect maize from genetic contamination.”

The Greenpeace campaign is demanding that: * Governments around the world place a ban on the release of any transgenic crop or seed * Governments withdraw existing authorizations for both commercial and experimental growing of GE crops * Genetic contamination of crops must be cleaned up, with costs borne by biotech companies such as Monsanto, according to the “polluter pays” principle.

In Zuera (Zaragoza), Spain, Greenpeace activists entered the site of a GE maize field trial, and carved a 50-metre crop circle, marking the field a genetic contamination zone. Juan-Felipe Carrasco GE campaigner of Greenpeace Spain said: “This experimental field, only centimetres away from commercial fields, poses an unacceptable risk to both, our food and the environment. Contamination from GE rice has already proved disastrous for farmers in the US – why should we wait till our maize is similarly tainted?”

In Isabela, the Philippines Greenpeace activists carved a 45-meter “M” with a slash through it in the field of a friendly farmer, thus marking it as a no entry zone for Monsanto (2). Danny Ocampo, GE campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said "Monsanto is the largest promoter of Bt corn in the Philippines, and has persistently sold the crop even in GMO-free provinces like Oriental Mindoro.(3). Farmers have been lied to and lured into planting Bt corn, but the reality is that it endangers sustainable farming, which is safe, ecologically superior and economically beneficial. GMOs are none of the those things."

In Jocotitlàn, Mexico(4), a huge crop circle simply stated ‘NO’, in a demand for the government to reject Monsanto’s proposal to break a long-standing moratorium against the cultivation of GE maize. Gustavo Ampugnani GE campaigner of Greenpeace Mexico said: “Mexico is the source of all the world’s maize varieties. It began here. If Monsanto is allowed to introduce GE maize into Mexico, the result will be the genetic contamination of Mexico’s native maize varieties. We have to ensure that we don’t let that happen.“

Many of the long-term effects of genetic engineering on the soil, animals, plants and human health are still unknown. Genetic contamination of crops is a disturbing reality in all parts of the world where GE crops are being grown, and the technology continues to be a serious threat to biodiversity, food security, farmers’ livelihoods and consumers’ right to choose.

For further information: Geert Ritsema, GE Campaigner, Greenpeace International: +31 646 1973 28 Namrata Chowdhary, Greenpeace International Communications: +31 646 1973 27 Greenpeace International picture desk: +31 653 819 121

Notes to Editors: (1) Pictures from all three locations are available from Greenpeace International picture desk, John Novis: +31-(0)6 53 81 91 21 (2) Monsanto is a US biotech company that sells more than 90 % of GE seeds around the world, see Greenpeace briefing “Monsanto’s seven deadly sins”: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/7-deadly-sins
(3) Several provinces in the Philippines have legislations passed (Oriental Mindoro) or are in the process of drafting legislation (Marinduque) that bans the entry of GMOs. (4) A decision by the Mexican government whether to allow field trials with transgenic maize is imminent. More about the threats of GE maize to Mexico’s native maize varieties can be found here: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/ge-maize-briefing

Ends

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