GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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Greenpeace Challenges Monsanto Roundup Patent




GREENPEACE CHALLENGES MONSANTO's ROUNDUP PATENT

BRUSSELS, 6 March, 1997-- Greenpeace today protested outside the
European headquarters  of the chemical giant Monsanto and launched a
legal action against the company's European patent for its genetically
altered soya beans.

Sixty activists from 19 different countries including every European
Union state (1) built a concrete wall in front of  the entrance to 
the Brussels headquarters of Monsanto. Giant syringes with XXXX on
them were inserted into the concrete, with a banner saying STOP
GENETIC FOOD EXPERIMENTS.   

Greenpeace is also challenging the legality of the patent granted by
the European Patent Office to Monsanto's  "Roundup Ready Soya Beans", 
which have been made resistant to the company's weed killer Roundup.
Greenpeace contends that the European Patent Office is breaching its
own rules by granting a patent for a plant variety. In 1995,
Greenpeace successfully challenged an earlier patent application for a
genetically engineered plant.  

Monsanto is the third largest chemical company in the USA, and has an
international history of toxic pollution [2].  Monsanto was the
company which made Agent Orange, the defoliant used during the Vietnam
war and which is widely linked to cancer.  War veterans *claim they
are still suffering  from their exposure to Agent Orange.  

"Monsanto is now trying to force-feed Europe and the world with its
genetically engineered soybeans which could be used in up to 60 per
cent of processed supermarket products," said Michelle Sheather of
Greenpeace International. "Monsanto is forcing its Roundup Ready
Soybeans on to the world market," she said. "Although only two
percent of  last year's soy crop in the US, the world's main producer,
was genetically engineered,  yet consumers have not been able to get
natural soybeans."  

Notes to Editors

[1] Italy, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, France, UK ,
Nederland, Finland, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, Greece, Portugal,
Switzerland, Australia, New-Zealand and the US.

[2]  Monsanto also produced one of the world's most toxic substances,
PCBs, used in electrical equipment, but now not produced in the
western world. The chemicals have been linked to birth defects,
infertility, impairment of mental functions in children; cancer and
immune systems.  The company has paid out millions on cleaning up its
toxic sites across the USA, and is linked to more than 93
contaminated  sites in the US.    

In the US last year farmers planting what was supposed to be
Monsanto's caterpillar-resistant cotton lost up to 60% of the crops,
with a final bill of $US 1 billion. 

For further information contact : Pierre Coulon, Campaigner Greenpeace
Belgium tel mobile  32.75.875.831 or Michelle Sheather Greenpeace
International GE Coordinator 31.6539.30971 For information/interviews
with activists in different languages call: 31.6.532.38.475.