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GP, IFOAM take US Govmt. to court

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Greenpeace sues US over unsafe GE crops

Cartahena, Colombia, February 18, 1999-- Greenpeace, together with
farmer and consumer organisations filed a lawsuit today against the US
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) charging that the agency
violated the law in approving some genetically engineered (GE) crops.
The plaintiffs say that the agency is risking environmental damage and
the loss of the world's most important biological pesticide. The
Greenpeace lawsuit challenges the US position at the Biosafety
Protocol negotiations in Colombia, where the US is lobbying to
convince the developing world of the safety of engineered crops.

Today's lawsuit was filed by the International Centre for Technology
Assessment (ICTA) on behalf of over 30 US farmers, Greenpeace, the
Centre for Food Safety and the International Federation of Organic
Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), which represents more than 650
organisations worldwide. The farmers are concerned that the widespread
cultivation of Bt plants will inevitably lead to the rapid development
of insect resistance to the Bt toxin. Organic farmers use Bt spray
insecticides as their only emergency pest control option, but insect
resistance caused by Bt plants will make Bt sprays ineffective.

"We filed a petition to EPA over a year ago, yet the agency has
refused to respond," said Kalee Kreider, a Greenpeace spokesperson.
"Bt crops are an accident waiting to happen, and waiting is all EPA is
willing to do."

The lawsuit demands that EPA cancels all registrations of genetically
engineered Bt plants, and stops approving Bt varieties until they have
conducted a complete environmental impact assessment.  

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include organic farmers from across the US.
"Organic farmers have used Bt responsibly for nearly forty years,"
said Jim Gerritsen, a potato grower from Maine, "My ability to provide
pure food shouldn't be compromised for the short-term benefit of the
agro-chemical industry." 

"The US is the biggest block to strong international biosafety
regulations," said Charles Margulis a Greenpeace campaigner speaking
from the meetings in Colombia. "Yet even at home, our government can't
protect the environment from the dangers of this technology." The UN
sponsored meetings will conclude on Tuesday, February 23.      

For more information contact:
Kalee Kreider, Greenpeace US spokesperson, +1.202.319 2414
Mika Railo, Greenpeace International press officer in Cartahena, 
+57.(03)3.752 77 00 
A list of US farmers willing to comment is available from Greenpeace. 

Thomas Schweiger
EU GMO Advisor
Greenpeace International European Unit
37, Rue de la Tourelle
B-1040 Brussels
Tel: +32-2-280 14 00
Fax: +32-2-230 84 13
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