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2-Plants: USA is introducing transgenic maize into Mexico

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TITLE:  GREENPEACE confirms USA is introducing Transgenic Maize
        into Mexico
SOURCE: Greenpeace, press release
DATE:   May 25, 1999

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GREENPEACE confirms USA is introducing Transgenic Maize into

Port of Veracruz, Mexico. 25 may 1999.- With the complacency of
agriculture, environmental and health authorities, the United
States of America is introducing transgenic maize into Mexico,
Greenpeace denounced today and publicized the results of
laboratory samples taken from American ships that arrived in
Mexico through the Veracruz port of entry. A group of activists
painted two messages at the stard board side of the "BRIGHT
NEXTAGE" that was downloading 10,000 tons of maize from USA.
First message was "MAIZ OGT" and "MAIZ Bt FUERA!" and signed
GREENPEACE. Another activist climbed the anchor and stayed there
with a flag that reads "IMPERIALISMO GENETICO" with the X files

"The importation of genetically modified maize is being carried
out with the permission of the Commerce Department of Mexico,
without a thorough and comprehensive regulation on this issue,
especially in the area of environmental and health impacts", said
Liza Covantes, Genetic Engineering Campaign Coordinator with
Greenpeace Mexico, during a protest held today at this port.
"Transgenic maize is a serious threat for more than 300 creole
varieties existing in Mexico, that could be genetically
contaminated", added Liza Covantes.

Greenpeace researchers took maize samples ooriginating in the USA
and sent them to the Molecular Biology Laboratory of the
Environmental Ministry of the Austrian Government, in Vienna. The
results were positive for Bt maize varieties, among them "Event
176" from Novartis, which has antibiotic resistance genes.

Supposedly, this type of products have been introduced into
Mexico since 1997, without the authorization of the Health
Ministry. Officers from this Agency told Greenpeace as early as
1997 that they received a request to import transgenic maize, to
which they responded negatively. Health authorities say they
don`t have full evidence of the introduction of biotechnolical
products into Mexico, whose regulation would be part of their
activities (that is, for human consumption). According to them,
the responsibilty of the importation of grains and seeds
corresponds to the Agriculture Ministry. However, in an interview
with htis later agency they said they are only accountable for
the importation of seeds and grains for cultivation, not for
human consumption. As of this date, the Federal Environmental
Ministry (SEMARNAP) is still clueless in this discussion.

"In this accountability vaccum, the Commerce Ministry is
authorizing the introoduction of transgenic maize into the
country, without any assessment of the environmental and health
threats to our biodiversity, especially on the creole maize
varities", said Liza Covantes from Greenpeace. "We are very
concerned of this negligency of the Mexican Federal Government,
given the fact many countries are taking actions against these
threats posed by the genetically modified organisms", she added.

Greenpeace protest took place in the midst of an international
scandal provoked by the public release of the results of an
investigation of the Cornell University at New York about the
negative impacts of Bt maize on Monarch butterflies larves. "The
investigation of Cornell University is another evideence that can
be added to all the evideences gathered by environmental
organisations regarding the threat of this technology", Liza
Coovantes said. "We urge the Mexican Government to ban all the
importations of transgenic maize, based on the criteria of the
Precautionary Principle, signed by Mexico at the Rio Earth Summit
in 1992", she concluded.


-| Hartmut Meyer
-| Co-ordinator
-| The European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
-| Reinhaeuser Landstr. 51
-| D - 37083 Goettingen
-| Germany
-| phone: #49-551-7700027
-| fax  : #49-551-7701672
-| email:

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