GENTECH archive 8.96-97

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The Naked Truth: Nude Protest Over DNA-Altered Soybeans Rocks Rome Food Summit



The Naked Truth:
Nude Protest Over DNA-Altered Soybeans Rocks Rome Food Summit


Source: Reuters


ROME, The Reuters World Service:

Three women stripped naked in front of U.S. Agriculture
 Secretary Dan Glickman on Wednesday in a protest over
genetically modified U.S. soybeans.

As clothed demonstrators threw seeds and held up a banner
reading ``Ban the Gene Bean'' the three women stripped
off to reveal slogans saying ``The Naked Truth'' painted
on their bodies.

The protest, the latest in Europe over the past week to
try to keep the beans from going on sale, disrupted the
start of a news conference called by Glickman at the U.N.
Food and Agriculture (FAO) World Food Summit in Rome.

``We are all happy we live in a free society...thank
goodness for liberty and freedom of speech,'' Glickman
 said.

He drew laughs himself when he removed his jacket and
remarked that he had no plans to strip off as well.

 Italian police, caught off guard by the protest at a
summit surrounded by massive security, had to be called
to remove the demonstrators, who kicked over plants in a
minor scuffle.

``We're not part of any organisation. We're protesting
against the genetic engineering of soybeans,'' said one
of the women, a young Italian who identified herself as
Olivia.

A young male demonstrator, whose media credential badge
 identified him as Briton Joseph Ryan, said: ``The U.S. is
happy to promote the growth of genetic products which can
only help transnational corporations to dominate the
market.''

Protesters trying to keep the modified beans out of
Europe this week chained themselves to gates in Germany,
occupied the office of the Austrian health minister and
 climbed to the roof of the headquarters of Swiss food
group Nestle SA.

Environmentalists led by the Greenpeace group say they
worry that U.S. chemicals group Monsanto Co's Round Up
Ready soyabean, modified to resist the company's Round Up
herbicide, could be a threat to health.

Processors and governments reject that.

``Genetically modified soybeans and derivative products
are as safe as conventional soybeans,'' said a
spokeswoman for Britain's Agriculture Ministry.

Dozens of genetically modified products are on the market
already, many launched with a minimum of protest. One is
 Calgene's Flavr-Savr tomato, genetically changed to slow
 the action of an enzyme that starts the rotting process.

The concern in Europe is that the one to two percent of
 the U.S. soybean crop that is made up of modified beans
 is mixed in with normal ones.

Protesters want them separated and consumers told on
 labels whether they are buying produce that was made from
genetically altered beans.

 Industry sources said on Wednesday that, so far as can be
judged now, the protests will underpin prices for
alternative domestic rapeseed oil and keep bureaucrats
busy with requests for extra labelling on soy products.

But the row looks unlikely to disturb flows of soybeans,
oil and meal in and out of the European Union n the
1996/97 season.

"Opportunists in the food and feeds industries have
found short-term ways around the problem,'' an oilseeds
broker said.

``The bolder ones feel safe to stay out of the emotional
debate and get on with business...''

European Union oilseeds processors operating a powerful
capacity of about 30 million tonnes a year need imported
soybeans to produce enough oils and meals for the home
market and overseas.

`U.S. shipments to Europe will continue,'' said Arnd von
Wissel, managing director of oil miller Oelmuehle
Hamburg, a target of recent protest.

``The U.S. will be the only shop in town until next
 spring and if the beans aren't processed here, they will
go to Belgium or the Netherlands,'' von Wissel said.

REUTER@

 [11-13-96 at 13:07 EST, Copyright 1996, Reuters America
Inc.]











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