GENTECH archive 8.96-97


Greenpeace Bt Corn protest in Portugal halted by shootin


Amsterdam, 20 February 1997 -- Greenpeace International is to make an
official complaint to the Portuguese Government after bullets were
fired in Lisbon Harbour last night as Greenpeace activists peacefully
protested against the importation of genetically engineered corn from
the USA.  

"Greenpeace condemns the use of force against a peaceful protest like
this," said campaigner Riki Aguilar, speaking from the scene. We are
simply trying to highlight to the Portuguese people the undemocratic
way that this experimental food has been forced on unwilling European

Eight activists -- from Sweden, Germany, France, the Netherlands,
Portugal and the USA  --  in four inflatables were challenged by
police and marines around midnight as they approached a bulk cargo
ship which was at anchor in Lisbon harbour waiting to unload its
shipment of genetically engineered 14,500 tons of corn. 

Earlier in the day the activists had prevented the same ship - the
Cypriot-owned Pacificator - from docking. Over the next two hours some
single shots were fired as the inflatables were chased by police
launches. The protest was called off after the authorities opened fire
with automatic weapons. Fortunately no one was hit.

One of the Greenpeace boats, some of which were also carrying
independent journalists,  was rammed at high speed in the darkness.
Greenpeace International will be making a formal complaint about
excessive use of force to the Portuguese authorities.

Greenpeace is calling on the Portuguese government to ban the import
of  the transgenic corn in order to protect Europeans' environment and
health. In spite of serious concerns regarding possible health and
environmental implications, the corn was approved by the European
Commission earlier this month.

Austria and Luxembourg have already banned it, in defiance of the
Commissioners' decision.  France, which originally proposed the
transgenic corn for import and cultivation to its EU partners, last
week changed its mind and prevented its farmers from planting the
seeds. Other countries are expected to pressure the Commissioners to
reverse their decision.

Footage and stills of the action are available.
For further information contact: James Gillies, Press Officer,
Greenpeace International, tel 00 31 20 524 9548; Riki Aguilar,
Campaigner, Greenpeace International, tel mobile 00 31 6 5319 5259