GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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UK Protestors Occupy Monsanto HQ to Kick-off Global Protests



LONDON, April 21 (Reuter) - More than fifty activists protesting against
genetic crop engineering have occupied part of the British headquarters of
U.S. chemicals giant Monsanto Co <MTC.N>, a spokeswoman for the protesters
said on Monday. 

The spokeswoman told Reuters that the activists had hung banners from the
roof of Monsanto's offices in High Wycombe, north of London. They had gained
access to the second floor of the building and were occupying the board room.


"They are asking for a meeting to discuss the implications of genetic
engineering," she said. 

No-one from Monsanto was immediately available for comment, but a police
spokesman said the demonstration was "all entirely peaceful" and that only
four police officers were in attendance. 

"It is on private land and they have not committed any crime, so it is very
low key," the spokesman added. 

The invasion of Monsanto's offices is the latest in a string of protests
against the company over its development of genetically-altered crops, which
include soyabean and corn. 

Opponents claim that genetically-altered crops could introduce novel toxins
and spark food allergies. However, most regulatory bodies in Europe, Japan
and the U.S. have approved the crops as safe for consumers. 

Last month environmental group Greenpeace said it had filed a legal challenge
against a European patent given to Monsanto for genetically-altereed
soyabeans. 

Mark Lynas, a spokesman for the environmental lobby group Corporate Watch,
said genetically-engineered food had not been proved safe and was not
labelled in supermarkets. 

"It is an outrage that consumers are denied the right of choice and that big
corporations like Monsanto and Novartis <NOVZn.S> can just get away with
contaminating our food supply," 

Lynas said in a statement. 

Activists, including the Women's Environmental Network, said Monday's protest
was the start of a week of protests in 30 different countries against
genetically-engineered food, animal and human cloning and patenting of parts
of the body.. 

The Women's Environmental Network said the protests would be non-violent and
centered on handing out leaflets at supermarkets and writing letters to the
European Parliament