GENET archive


CONTAMINATION: Illegal GE maize enters the EU

                                 PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Dutch must return GMO maize if unauthorised - EU
SOURCE: Reuters
AUTHOR: David Brunnstrom & Foo Yun Chee
DATE:   01.05.2007

Dutch must return GMO maize if unauthorised - EU

BRUSSELS - A maize shipment to the Netherlands that Greenpeace said
contained illegal genetically modified grain must be returned to the
United States if testing confirmed this, the European Union said on Monday.

A European Commission spokesman said the European Food Safety Authority
had found that the type of genetically engineered maize Greenpeace said
was in the shipment was not a health threat, but it had yet to be
approved for use in the EU.

"It is still unlawful at the moment," Michael Mann said.

"The Dutch authorities have to test this shipment to acertain whether or
not it is an unauthortised GMO," he said. "If that is the case they will
have to ensure it is sent back to the United States."

Mann said Dutch authorities would have to provide information to other
EU countries on the steps they had taken and advise whether any of the
cargo of corn gluten animal feed had been unloaded in another EU state.

Greenpeace said the vessel had offloaded part of its cargo in Ireland,
but Mann said it was currently unclear if that was the case, even though
the shipment had travelled via Ireland from New Orleans en route to Rotterdam.

The environment group said this was at least the fourth time in the past
two years that unapproved genetically modified organisms (GMOs) had
entered Europe.

"Given the evidence, official traceability and testing systems are
patently unable to detect illegal GMO varieties entering Europe," it said.

The group called on the EU's executive Commission to suspend all imports
of US agricultural produce at risk of being contaminated with
unauthorised GMOs.

A spokeswoman for the Dutch Environment Ministry said she had no
information on the specific case but that under Dutch law a ship with an
illegal shipment normally had to be returned.

A spokesman for Rotterdam port said the ship was not there on Monday and
he did not know when it had left or for where.

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                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Holland told to track down illegal maize
SOURCE: DutchNews, The Netherlands
DATE:   01.05.2007

............................................................ ...............
GP NL press release (in Dutch)
............................................................ ...............

Holland told to track down illegal maize

The European Commission has told the Netherlands to trace a consignment
of maize contaminated with illegal genetically-manipulated crops which
arrived in Rotterdam port last month.

Although the EU food safety committee has recommended that the maize -
Herculex RW - be approved, it is currently illegal and should be 'traced
and sent back,' a spokesman for health commissioner Markos Kyprianou told ANP.

The contaminated maize, described as GM-free on official documents, was
identified in samples of the crop taken by Greenpeace in April. It was
on board the Croatian-owned bulk carrier Pakrac, which had picked up its
load in New Orleans.

Greenpeace also found a consignment of maize flour which contained 1.9%
GM crops on board the same ship. The legal limit for contamination is 0.9%.

On Saturday Greenpeace called on the EC to suspend all imports of US
agricultural produce which is at risk of being contaminated with illegal
GM crops. And the organisation criticised the food safety authority VWA
for not carrying out enough checks. In 2005 the VWA carried out 1,582
tests and inspections on ships for GM contamination. Last year it
carried out just 175, Greenpeace claimed.

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                                 PART III
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Greenpeace says it found illegal GM corn in U.S. shipment to EU
SOURCE: Technology Review, USA
AUTHOR: The Associated Press
DATE:   30.04.2007

Greenpeace says it found illegal GM corn in U.S. shipment to EU

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- Greenpeace found genetically modified corn
illegally entering the European Union during tests this month on a U.S.
shipment in the Dutch port of Rotterdam, the environmental campaign
group said Monday.

Greenpeace urged the EU executive to act immediately to confiscate the
cargo and temporarily suspend all imports of U.S. agricultural produce
that could contain unauthorized genetically modified content.

European Commission spokesman Michael Mann said the EU had no intention
of imposing a blanket ban on such U.S. agricultural imports, and that it
was up to Dutch authorities to take action by logging any illegal corn.

Wary of public health and environmental concerns, the EU allows only
genetically modified food and animal feed that has been evaluated and
authorized to be placed on the EU market.

Greenpeace said the illegal corn samples came from a ship moored in
Rotterdam harbor on April 10. The ship, which had also docked in
Ireland, claimed it was carrying GM-free corn from the United States,
the group said.

A laboratory found that samples from the shipment contained two
unauthorized types of genetically engineered maize -- Herculex(R) RW
59122, developed by Pioneer and Dow Agrosciences to be resistant to
rootworm pests, and Monsanto's MON863, which is currently being tested
by the European Food Safety Authority, Greenpeace said.

"This is the fourth time in the past two years that illegal, unapproved
genetically modified organisms enter the European market," Greenpeace
said in a statement.

In October, EU nations stepped up testing for all U.S. long-grain rice
imports after two banned GM strain called Liberty Link Rice 601 and LL
Rice 62 were accidentally imported from the U.S. Costs were borne by

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                                 PART IV
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------
TITLE:  Illegal GM maize enters EU through Ireland
SOURCE: GM-free Ireland, Ireland & Greenpeace International, The Netherlands
AUTHOR: Press Release
DATE:   30.04.2007

Illegal GM maize enters EU through Ireland
Greenpeace & GM-free Ireland demand blockade of all US maize shipments
Clouds of GM powder contaminate Dublin Docklands
Fianna Fáil's GM food traceability system in tatters
Irish farmers plan to phase out GM animal feed

The GM-free Ireland Network and Greenpeace International called today
for a blockade of US maize imports following laboratory tests on Friday
which prove that a shipment of US animal feed intercepted in Dublin Port
and later in Rotterdam entered the EU illegally with a cargo
contaminated by unauthorised and toxic varieties of genetically modified
(GM) maize.

The certified laboratory analysis showed 2.4% contamination for a GM
maize variety called Herculex patented by Pioneer / Dow Agrosciences,
which is approved in the USA but illegal in the EU. The tests also
showed 20% positive for GM maize MON863 patented by Monsanto; the latter
is still approved for animal feed and human food in the EU, even though
the European Food Safety Authority has been forced to review its
approval following allegations of scientific fraud, cover up, and a
recent peer-reviewed study by French scientists which found it causes
serious liver and kidney damage in laboratory animals.

GM-free Ireland and Greenpeace called for the blockade following their
discovery of the contaminated animal feed aboard the Pakrac which
arrived in Dublin from New Orleans on 2 April. The cargo unloaded here
included distiller's grain probably extracted from a GM maize variety
that contains its own pesticide, and hulls from GM soya beans thought to
contain high level residues of Monsanto's toxic Roundup weedkiller,
which has been found to cause toxicity to human placental cells within
hours of exposure, at levels ten times lower than those found in
agricultural use. The remainder of the cargo, consisting of GM maize
pellets, was unloaded in Rotterdam. [Note: on 1 May the Dept. of
Agriculture said maize gluten was also unloaded off the Pakrac in Dublin
- the same kind of product that tested positive for illegal and toxic GM
contamination in Rotterdam - Ed.]

The ship's captain said he was unaware of the contamination because the
US authorities certified the cargo as "non-GMO". Dublin Port Company
harbourmaster, Capt. David Dignam said all he knew is that the Pakrak
carried 16,000 tonnes of "agricultural products". The Port Company and
the receiving agent, S.J. Murphy & Co. Ltd (a subsidiary of R. A. Burke)
also said they were unaware of the cargo's specific contents. The
importer R & H Hall (Ireland's biggest importer and supplier of animal
feed ingredients, and a subsidiary of IAWS Group Plc), claimed the only
cargo unloaded in Dublin was GM soya hulls and distiller's grain from GM
maize, adding that the latter did not carry a GM label to identify its
provenance because the transgenic DNA "would not survive the process
used to extract it from the GM maize". The tests commissioned by
Greenpeace took two weeks to find the first illegal GM content because
the lab did not know what type of GMO maize they had to look for, since
neither the ship's captain nor any regulatory body had been informed
what possible contamination might have been present. No tests have yet
been carried out to find out if the cargo unloaded here is also
contaminated by the Herculex and MON863 varieties. Further contamination
of farmers, livestock and consumers will occur if these GM products are
allowed to enter the market.

Contaminated bankers, brokers and commodity traders

Bankers, brokers, commodity traders and residents around Dublin's
Docklands are routinely exposed to clouds of GM powder when contaminated
animal feed shipments are unloaded here. GM-free Ireland and Greenpeace
obtained photographic evidence of clouds of GM powder being repeatedly
blown off a bucket crane, as the Pakrac's cargo was slowly unloaded from
the ship at the Odlums silos in Alexandra Basin. The wind carried the
powder towards the P&O European Ferries terminal, the Point Depot
concert venue, and nearby office buildings. Witnesses said the unloading
was still underway on the afternoon of the following day.

Irish meat and dairy produce from GM-fed animals refused by EU retailers

This unauthorised GM maize is the third type of illegal GM food or feed
known to have entered the EU through Ireland in the last two years.
Three quarters of a million tonnes of illegal and toxic varieties of GM
animal feed now routinely enter the EU through Ireland each year,
contaminating our food chain without the knowledge of the authorities,
farmers or consumers. Most of Ireland's non-organic livestock are fed on
GM ingredients. A related loophole in EU law allows the resulting meat
and dairy produce to be sold without a GM label. But leading retailers
in France, Italy, Russia, Switzerland, and the UK who previously made a
voluntary ban on GM food, have recently extended their bans to meat,
poultry and dairy produce from livestock fed on GM ingredients. As a
result, Irish exporters of live cattle and beef, lamb and dairy produce
are being excluded from prime EU markets unless accompanied by an
accredited certification proving their food chain is GM-free from farm
to fork.

Regulatory failure

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan claims that, "since
April 2004 all feed imports have been subjected to inspection for
accuracy of GM labelling and very high levels of compliance have been
detected." But Liam Hyde of the Department's Animal Feedingstuffs
Section confirmed that imported animal feed is only tested for GM
content on a random basis, adding that he was "unaware" of the French
scientific study which found that MON863 is toxic to animals. He also
said that the Irish government records of GM animal feed imports for
2006 have been irretrievably lost due to the "computer database
failure", making traceability and liability impossible in the event of
related animal or human health problems.

Fine Gael Agriculture and Food spokesperson Denis Naughten TD said "One
third of animal feed consignments imported into Ireland in 2005 were
mislabelled as containing no genetically modified material when, in
fact, the opposite was the case. Green Party Leader Trevor Sargent, TD
said "Under this Minister's watch, the vast majority of feed imports are
genetically modified. This shows just how little she cares for the
economic future of conventional and organic growers, for the Irish food
industry's image on the world market, for consumers and for Ireland's

This total breakdown of our food safety and traceability system is a
clear breach of EU regulation 1829/2003. It proves once again that the
existing mechanisms of EU legislation concerning GMOs are not effective
and can not protect consumers, farmers, companies and the environment
from unwanted GE contamination.

Segregated system needed for GM-free imports

The unloading facilities in Dublin Port don't include a dedicated system
to segregate GM from conventional and organic food and feed imports, as
specified by the Department of Agriculture's proposed rules "to ensure
the co-existence" of GM products with conventional and organic agriculture.

The substantial quantities blown off the dockside into the Alexandra
basin and the river Liffey probably also contaminate birds, fish, and
seals around Dublin Bay, threatening the biodiversity of five Natura
2000 sites in the area.

Call for blockade of US maize shipments

Greenpeace International this morning requested the European Commission
to take immediate steps to halt all maize and other food and feed
shipments imported from the USA, until a rigorous comprehensive testing
programme and traceability system is fully implemented in compliance
with EU law.

At today's European Commission daily press conference at lunchtime, an
EC spokesperson said they are concerned that an illegal maize variety
has entered the EU. They said the Dutch authorities need to act and put
the illegal maize on the Rapid Alert System, so that other EU member
states can trace it and take it off the market. The Commission
spokesperson also said that although Herculex RW maize is indeed illegal
in the EU, it received a positive opinion from EFSA on 4 April) and EU
member states still have an opportunity to discuss this opinion on 8
June at a meeting of the EC Standing Committee on the Food Chain and
Animal Health. The spokesperson said the EC had no plans to halt all US
maize shipments. Greenpeace spokesperson Geert Ritsema said "This is
typical for the European Commission's approach to GM contamination
scandals so far. They do not go beyond crisis management. They deal with
each crisis separately but do not take any meaningful measures to
prevent future contamination."

Greenpeace and GM-free Ireland have also requested the Irish Government
to explain why the illegal maize was not intercepted in Dublin, to
clarify what was unloaded here, and to test the latter for the presence
of illegal and toxic GM maize varieties. They have also called for the
EU and Irish Government to ban the importation of Monsanto's toxic
MON863 maize from being sold on to farmers and contaminating the food chain.

At a media briefing in Brussels today, a Greenpeace spokesperson said
"We hold the authorities in all EU member states and the European
Commission responsible for protecting EU citizens against the risks of
illegal imports of GMOs. They have this obligation under EU law
(labelling and traceability regulation 1829/2003). In the case of the
Pakrac the controls have failed miserably: both the Irish and the Dutch
authorities did not detect the cargo as containing illegal GM maize. It
was Greenpeace who found out by doing a random sampling of one ship. The
first time we tested a maize ship since many years, we immediately found
illegal GMO maize. This clearly indicates that the EU's official
traceability and testing system for GMOs is patently unable to detect
illegal GMO varieties on time. Therefore Greenpeace demands a blockade
of all US maize shipments and other US shipments that are at risk of
being contaminated with illegal GMOs until an extensive testing
programme is in place to protect consumers, farmers and the environment
against the risks of illegal maize imports."

Farmers to phase out use of GM animal feed

GM-free Ireland is currently engaged in discussions with H & R Hall
(Ireland's largest importer and supplier of animal feed ingredients),
the Kepak Group (which controls over 60% of the market for Irish beef),
the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) and the Irish
Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) to explore the feasibility
of supplying farmers with certified non-GMO animal feed as soon as possible.

Michael O'Callaghan of GM-free Ireland said "the routine use of GM
fodder has already damaged the reputation of Irish meat and dairy
produce, which would otherwise be considered the best in Europe. We
cannot afford to further damage our food exports by continuing to allow
illegal and/or toxic varieties of GM animal feed to be sold here, much
less the current government's plans 'to ensure the co-existence' of GM
crops with conventional and organic faming."

In the UK (Tesco, Sainsburys, Marks & Spencer), France (Carrefour),
Italy (Coop Italia), and Switzerland (Migros, Coop) have recently
extended their previous ban on GMO ingredients by prohibiting the sale
of meat and dairy produce from livestock fed on GM ingredients in their
own-brand food products. This follows on an early ban on GM foods by
Europe's 60 largest food brands and food retailers in 2005.

Call for reform of the European Food Safety Authority

Greenpeace has urged European Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner,
Marcos Kyprianou, and all European member states to apply the
Precautionary Principle by prohibiting the further importation and
cultivation of MON863 maize and all other GMOs, since all products on
the market suffer from the same lack of proper risk assessment.

The European Environmental Bureau, which serves as an umbrella group for
Europe's main Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations, has demanded
a radical reform of the European Commission's GMO authorisation
procedure, and a review of all risk assessments carried out so far on GM
animal feed, food and crops.

Irish General Election

GM-free Ireland spokesperson Michael O'Callaghan said his organisation
will soon publish a list of all candidates in the forthcoming General
Election, with their response - or lack thereof - to a letter sent to
them before Christmas requesting them to state if they support the call
for a total ban on GMO seeds and crops in Ireland. He concluded "The
General Election provides an opportunity for voters to replace a
government that broke its previous pre-election pledge never to allow GM
food and crops in this country. Contaminating our food chain with
dangerous GM feed and food is unacceptable. We are working with farmers
and food exporters to phase out the use of GM animal feed, and urge the
government to act before GM crops are legalised for cultivation here.
The best thing for the future of our food, faming and tourism sectors is
to follow the lead of the nine other EU member states and 236 Regional
Governments and declare the whole island of Ireland as a GMO-free zone."

Michael O'Callaghan · GM-free Ireland Network
tel + 353 (0)404 43 885 · mobile + 353 (0)87 799 4761
Geert Ritsema · Greenpeace International
tel + 31 646 197 328

Follow-up note:

According to RTE's Farm News radio programme broadcast on 1 May 2007,
the Irish Department of Agriculture stated today that maize gluten was
also unloaded off the Pakrac in Dublin - the same kind of product that
tested positive for illegal and toxic GM contamination in Rotterdam.

The Department of Agriculture was quoted as saying they didn't test the
cargo because it came with a "GM-free certificate" from the US, thus
proving once again that the Minister of Agriculture's claim that "all
feed imports have been subjected to inspection for accuracy of GM
labelling and very high levels of compliance have been detected" is a lie.

GM-free Ireland demands that all the animal feed unloaded from the
Pakrac in Dublin be recalled immediately - including any that has
already been sold to feed compounders or farmers - pending conclusive
laboratory analysis for both Herclulex and MON963 contamination.

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Hartmut MEYER (Mr)

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