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9-Misc: GM Corn protesters send message from Germany

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

TITLE:  GM Corn Protesters Send Message
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle, Germany, by Hardy Graupner,1564,1664782,00.html
DATE:   1 Aug 2005

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GM Corn Protesters Send Message

The issue of genetically-modified corn strikes a nerve with many
Europeans. To vent their indignation about the lifting of a moratorium,
ecology campaigners protested at a GM cornfield near Berlin.

On Sunday, up to 400 ecology campaigners from western Europe flocked to a
small village some 40 kilometers (25 miles) outside of Berlin to join
forces for a protest action which they called "voluntary field
liberation." Their plan was to symbolically destroy some genetically
modified (GM) corn in a field outside of the village Hohenstein.

One organizer, Michael Grolm, said the protesters did not come to destroy
the crops in the field, but the provocative nature of the name, directed
towards a farmer who is growing GM corn on his land, forced police to
counter with a strong presence. According to Grolm, the large number of
police officers needed to protect the relatively small parcel of land
meant the protest was a success.

In his words, farmers and companies who want to propagate the advantages
of GM grains, will have a "difficult time" if so many police officers are
needed to protect farmland where GM crops are supposed to be grown.

Protesters see two-fold danger

Ecology proponents and anti-globalization protesters showed up from
Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and France to demonstrate against
what they believe to be a two-fold danger brought on by an increased
usage of GM crops.

Some were enraged by the fact that the cornfield directly neighbors a
natural park, calling it a provocation.

"It isn't clear what genetically modified grains do," said Martin Piprek,
a local farmer who spearheaded the campaign in Hohenstein.

Piprek said that he has heard of studies that some species crucial to
ecosystems, such as butterflies, have been dying at much higher rates
than usual when farmers grow GM crops in their fields.

While some demonstrators were concerned about the possible health hazards
and/or effects to human genetic material, others saw the spread of GM
corn in another light, namely the light of bright money.

"Many people concentrate on the food aspect," said Christoph Asseuer.
"I'd rather concentrate on the fact of a monopoly that a certain
corporation holds on the seeds (...) The variety of seeds is in great
danger of being throttled by the attempt to monopolize certain seeds and
take certain seeds out of the market."

Monsanto bears responsibility

Asseuer didn't specifically name which company he was talking about, but
the one bearing the brunt of attacks from most GM opponents is Monsanto.

As a small farmer, Martin Piprek also saw sinister motives behind
Monsanto's GM marketing.

"They will set up a monopoly situation here," he said. "It's like in
India or South America. People from there say sooner or later that you
lose your farm because you can't compete anymore. I don't want that so
I'm going to throw them out."


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(*)
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