GENTECH archive 8.96-97


Austrians overwhelmingly anti-GE in national referendum - Austri


Greenpeace: The world must listen - Stop genetic engineering in food

Vienna, April 14, 1997 -- The European Commission should listen to the 1,226.551 Austrian 
citizens who signed the referendum calling on their government to stop the release of gene
tically engineered organisms into food and the environment, Greenpeace Austria Executive 
Director Ulrike Schelander said today. The referendum on genetical engineering comes in 
second in the list of referenda in Austria. It is the most successful vote on enviromental issues.

"With this sensational result, the Austrian people have given a very strong signal to the other 
EU countries and the whole world: A vast part of our population does not want to eat geneti
cally altered food. Now the politicians have to act accordingly", Schelander said. "It is not only 
Austrians who do not want genetic engineering in their food or environment. Greenpeace is 
getting a similar message from consumers and Governments right around Europe and 

France and Italy have banned the growing of genetically engineered maize; Austria and 
Luxembourg have also banned its import. The EU Parliament last week strongly criticised the 
EU Commission for its outrageous behaviour in authorising genetically engineered maize. 
European Commission President Jacques Santers' reaction to the Parliamentary resolution last 
week was not one of concern, but rather the opposite: he is trying to try to find ways to stifle 
such strong criticism from the Parliament in future.

This week the Commission has been summoned yet again to a meeting at the United States 
Department of Agriculture which has reacted to the European opposition to genetic engi
neering by saying `this shouldn't be allowed to happen.'

"For whom is Mr. Santer working - the United States Department of Agriculture or Europe? 
Are we to have no democracy or rights in Europe?", asked Greenpeace Director Schelander.

Following the successful referendum, Greenpeace and the other initiators demanded a package 
of immediate measures from the Austrian government:

.	an immediate moratorium for all releases of GMOs; 
.	a ban on the production of genetically manipulated organisms;
.	the import ban on GE maize has to be defended, if necessary up to the European Court;
.	Austria should ban the import of GE soya;
.	an Austrian veto against the EU patents directive;
.	strict liability-regulations for GE production and transport;
.	strict and comprehensive labelling of all GE food in Austria; 
.	Austria should be taking forward to the EU a proposal for a moratorium on releases of all 
                   GMOs in Europe. 

"In 1978, the Austrian population voted against the nuclear plant Zwentendorf and thus, as the 
first country in the world, said no to nuclear power. Now Austria once again has become a 
worldwide pioneer, by pushing back genetically manipulated food and agricultural products", 
said Schelander.

for further information:
Matthias Schickhofer, Greenpeace Austria
Tel: ++43-1-7130061-44 or ++43-664-3386503 (mobile phone)
Attila Cerman, Greenpeace Austria
Tel: ++43-1-7130061-58 or ++43-663-9208162 (mobile phone)
Cindy Baxter, Greenpeace International, Tel: ++31-20-5236279

notes to the editors:

1) The referendum against genetical engineering was organised and supported by a broad coa
lition of environmental and animal protection organisations, Austrian farmers and parts of the 
catholic church of Austria. It was up for signing between April 7 - April 14:

	e. a ban to the production, import and sale of genetically manipulated food 
	and agricultural products in Austria.
	e. a ban for the release of genetically manipulated plants, animals and 
	e. a ban to the patenting of living beings.

2) According to Austrian law, every referendum that receives more than 100.000 signatures 
has to be dealt with by the parliament within one year. The most successful referendum in the 
past was against the construction of the Vienna Conference Centre in 1982 (1,361.562 signa

3) There are 5,76 million voters in Austria.