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9-Misc: American farmer takes his case against GE food to the WTO

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-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  American farmer takes his case against genetically modified food to
        the WTO
SOURCE: HooverÕs News, USA, by Naomi Koppel, Associated Press Writer
DATE:   November 10, 2001

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American farmer takes his case against genetically modified food to the WTO

DOHA, Qatar (AP) _ American farmer Tom Wiley had never been outside his 
country until last week. On Saturday, the 49-year-old was in the Persian 
Gulf state of Qatar, traveling on the protest ship Rainbow Warrior to 
persuade trade ministers to halt production of genetically modified food.

"It's almost a spiritual experience for me, a farmer, to be coming here. 
I'm in awe of being here," said Wiley, whose 3,000-acre (1,200-hectare) 
farm in Montpelier, North Dakota, has been in his family for more than a 

Wiley wants the 142 member nations of the World Trade Organization, holding 
their ministerial meeting in Qatar this week, to impose a moratorium on 
biotech food "until the safety issues can be resolved."

Campaigners claim that genetically altered food may have long-term health 
effects. They say it is impossible for people who prefer to avoid it to be 
sure whether their food is genetically modified or not.

The issue will not come up during the meeting, but campaigners hope to show 
politicians how important it is to ordinary people. Ministers will consider 
whether to amend rules on labeling food.

The fight is extremely personal for Wiley.

Last year he signed a contract to supply 15,000 bushels of soybeans to 
Japan. Before it was accepted it had to undergo a number of quality checks, 
including a test to establish what proportion was genetically modified.

Japan allows up to 1 percent of food to be genetically altered, he said. 
Wiley's soybeans showed 1.37 percent. He lost the contract and it cost him 
thousands of dollars.

Wiley doesn't use genetically modified crops, but some of his neighbors do, 
and he suspects cross-contamination.

"I was already interested in the problem, but when it hits you in the 
pocket it really becomes a lively issue for me."

Wiley got involved in a campaign to impose a three-year moratorium on 
biotech crops in North Dakota, but the effort failed.

So he took his case further afield, and that's when he met up with 
activists from the environmental pressure group Greenpeace. They invited 
him to travel to Doha to tell his story.

He flew for 26 hours to reach Dubai, where he boarded the Greenpeace ship 
Rainbow Warrior for a 30-hour journey through the Gulf to tiny Qatar.

Now Wiley is telling his story to anyone who will listen, including the 
European Union's Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and French farming activist 
Jose Bove.

"I ask people if they agree with human cloning and they always say no, but 
we can put fish genes into tomatoes and antibiotics into corn," said Wiley.

The trip to Doha was Wiley's first outside the United States, but it will 
not be his last. He is joining campaigners traveling to Europe this year to 
explain why they oppose genetically modified crops.

"I am really on a mission," said Wiley.


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