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2-plants: Greenpeace Quarantines Genetically Engineered Wheat in Canada

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Greenpeace Quarantines Genetically Engineered Wheat in Canada

Morden, Manitoba, Canada. 5 June 2003 - Greenpeace took action this morning
to prevent commercialisation of genetically engineered (GE) wheat in
Canada. Greenpeace volunteers have quarantined the Agriculture and
Agri-food Canada (AAFC) Research Farm in Morden, Manitoba. Four activists
climbed onto the roof of the research building and unfurled a 120 sq. metre
banner reading 'Stop GE Wheat' as others locked the front doors of the
building and erected quarantine signs. Other signs reading 'Biohazard: Stop
Genetically Engineered Wheat' were erected around the farm.

'We’re quarantining this research facility because of the risks GE wheat
pose to the environment and to Canada’s farmers,' said Holly Penfound,
Greenpeace Genetic Engineering Campaigner. 'The Canadian government should
be prohibiting the release of GE wheat, not growing it for Monsanto in the
open environment.'

The secretive field trial is one of many being conducted by the Canadian
Government (AAFC) on behalf of the GE seed and chemical company, Monsanto,
and in support of Monsanto’s recent application for a licence to
commercialise GE Wheat. The GE wheat is growing in Manitoba, the heartland
of Canadian wheat production, and is one of roughly fifty sites where open
air field trials of GE wheat will take place in Canada in 2003.

The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB), responsible for Canadian Wheat exports,
estimates that up to 80 per cent of Canada’s $3 billion wheat export market
will not purchase GE Wheat or GE contaminated Wheat. The CWB went as far as
to write to Monsanto in recent weeks to ask that they voluntarily withdraw
the GE wheat application for the good of the Canadian wheat industry.
Monsanto refused.

The Greenpeace action also intends to expose the close ties and contractual
partnerships between the Canadian government and Monsanto. The Canadian
government’s own role within Canada as both promoter and regulator of the
GE industry is coming under increasing scrutiny because it appears to
contribute to the inadequate regulation of food biotechnology in Canada and
places the interests of Monsanto over the public interest of Canadians.

Monsanto was responsible for 91% of the GE seeds planted in 2002 worldwide,
but the company share price has plummeted from $38 to $20 since June of
2002, in part due to international rejection of GE seeds. The company is
increasingly desperate to open up new markets for its GE seeds and to sell
more of its associated chemicals.

'The Canadian and US governments should climb out of Monsanto’s nfluential
but shrinking pocket and start representing the interests of Canadian
people. Commercialising GE wheat would not only put the environment at
risk, it would also be a commercial disaster for North American farmers.
The sheer scale of rejection of GE crops in major wheat import markets,
such as the EU and South Korea, illustrates that people don’t want GE
ingredients in their daily bread,' said Lindsay Keenan, Greenpeace’s
markets specialist.

For more information contact:
Holly Penfound, Environmental Health Campaigner, 416 597 8408 x3017 cell
416 723 9425
Andrew Male, Communications Co-ordinator, 416 597 8408 x3030 cell 416 880
Lindsay Keenan, Markets Specialist (in Berlin)+ 49 30 30 88 99 16  cell +49
171 505 2896

Gina Sanchez, Greenpeace Media Officer in Amsterdam, +316 270 00 064
Stills and Aerial footage will be available at 2 pm Central time by calling
Greenpeace Communications Co-ordinator Andrew Male

Notes to Editors:

Please ask for referenced background document or check websites listed for
more detail.

Background Materials:

Greenpeace Canada website contains background to this specific action and
details of the current GE debate within Canada. Address:

Greenpeace International website contains background documents including
quotes from many leading European wheat importers. Address:

Canadian Wheat Board web site contains CWB policy on GE, agronomic
assessment of GE Wheat and copy of CWB letter to Monsanto asking company to
withdraw its GE Wheat application. Address:

Canadian National Farmers Union web site contains NFU policy on GE,
including a briefing called, '10 reasons why we don`t want GE Wheat'.