GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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Protests resume against genetically modified food



Protests resume against genetically modified food 

RTw 28.01.97 17:55 

Copyright 1997 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. 

The following news report may not be republished or redistributed, in
whole or in part, without
the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd. 

By Peter Blackburn 

BRUSSELS, Jan 28 (Reuter) - Protesters demonstrated in front of
multinational food
companies in nine European countries on Tuesday as the environmental
group Greenpeace
reignited its campaign against the sale of genetically modified food. 

Greenpeace said hundreds of activists blockaded the entrances and
unfurled banners at the
national offices of Unilever, Danone and Nestle in Belgium, Italy,
Germany, Austria, Finland,
France, Spain, the Czech Republic and Switzerland. 

"We shall continue the protests until we have a guarantee from these
companies that they will
stop using genetically modified soy in their food products," Greenpeace
campaigner Jon Walter
said, speaking by phone from Amsterdam. 

In March, the EU approved imports of modified soybean from the United
States that had been
genetically altered by Monsanto Co to make them resistant to a
herbicide. The soybeans are
processed into cooking and salad oil and into meal to feed animals.
Walter said the
multinationals had the power to demand and obtain gene-free raw
materials which would not
endanger human and animal health or the environment. He warned the
protests would be
extended to more crops, saying: "Modified maize is the next target." 

The last major Greenpeace protest was on December 12 when it
demonstrated in Germany
and the Netherlands against transgenic animal feed grains. In Belgium,
Greenpeace activists
built a wall of 200 sacks of natural soybeans across the entrance to
Unilever's office, chained
up the gates and waved a banner saying "No genetic experiment with our
food." 

A few activists were allowed inside the building to deliver a pile of
protest letters, but a
spokesman for Unilever headquarters in Rotterdam said the company's
position on the altered
soybeans was unchanged. "Unilever believes these products are totally
safe but it is up to
individual operating companies in each country to decide whether or not
to use them,"
spokesman Frank van Ooyen said. In France, Greenpeace said police were
called to remove
activists demonstrating at food company Danone, but elsewhere the
protests were generally
peaceful. 

In Frankfurt, Germany, Greenpeace protested outside the German
headquarters of Nestle
Deutschland AG over the use of transgenic soybeans. "Nestle can't and
won't guarantee
consumers that its products are free from genetically altered soybeans,"
campaigner Dieke
Bobbink said by telephone from outside Nestle. 

In Italy, Greenpeace protesters hung a banner across the top of a Nestle
factory in Milan,
witnesses said. "This is a serious form of discrimination against
Italian consumers who stated
that they do not want to eat unnatural food, whose effects on human
health are unknown," said
Alessandro Gianni, a spokesman for Greenpeace Italy. 

Nestle, the world's largest food company, has insisted that genetically
modified soybeans are
safe and of high quality and it intended to use them in its products
despite the protests. Its
German arm, however, has agreed not to use the beans. 

In Switzerland, a Nestle spokesman said around 20 demonstrators
protested in front of the
company's headquarters in Vevey but left voluntarily after around two
hours. 

REUTER