SnowBall archive


GE - news from weekend

1) EU plans for large scale GM disaster
2) GENETIC CROP SITE "DECONTAMINATED" - Scottish campaigners take action to 
end The Genetic Experiment 
3) Spanish Farmers Urge Gm Food Moratorium
5) Monsanto's Crisis Management on the Internet 
6) The Guardian 31st march 1999 Society Environment pages

The Independent 4.4.99
1) EU plans for large scale GM disaster
By Marie Woolf, Political Correspondent 
EUROPEAN governments are drawing up contingency plans for a 
nuclear fallout-style emergency involving genetically modified 
A five-point Emergency Response Plan has been formulated by the 
European Commission, designed to cope if genetically modified plants 
result in widespread illness or the death of wildlife. 
The draft directive, set to be adopted by ministers across Europe, 
includes plans to "decontaminate" affected areas and destroy plants and 
animals exposed to GMOs. The plan is designed to prevent a human 
health disaster and stop genetically modified plants breeding wildly 
with native species 
The proposed five-point plans are similar to those used in the case of 
accidental nuclear leaks and will be a requirement of any new 
application to release genetically modified organisms once the law 
comes into force. 
So a company wishing to plant GM seeds in Britain will have to 
present a detailed strategy for coping with a disaster. This must 
1. Methods and procedures for controlling the GMOs in case of 
unexpected spread; 
2. Methods for decontamination of the areas affected, e.g. eradication 
of the GMOs; 
3. Methods for disposal or sanitation of plants, animals, soils, etc. 
were exposed during or after the spread; 
4. Methods for the isolation of the area affected by the spread; 
5. Plans for protecting human health and the environment in case of the 
occurrence of an undesirable effect. 
"The case for the need for these crops has not been thought out, but 
governments are already gearing up for emergency decontamination 
operations," said Tony Juniper, campaigns and policy director of 
Friends of the Earth. "This is redolent of a 1960s nuclear civil 
The new directive will amend the current EU law on genetically 
modified crops. The proposed changes, which have Government 
backing, will be discussed by European environment ministers in June, 
but could take years to implement. 
"Ministers are clearly fore-seeing major problems with GMOs, or 
they wouldn't be considering these action plans," said Norman Baker, 
the Liberal Democrat environment spokes-man. "With large 
farm-scale trials in the UK only days away'', contingency plans were 
"a matter of urgency", he said.
2) GENETIC CROP SITE "DECONTAMINATED" - Scottish campaigners take action to 
end The Genetic Experiment 

At one minute to midnight on Friday night, 
concerned citizens from around Scotland pulled up 
a field of genetically engineered (GE) oilseed 
rape at Boghall Farm, Penicuik, near Edinburgh. This 
nonviolent action was the latest in a series of 
protests at genetic test sites in Scotland (1).
Concerned about the potential threat of genetic 
pollution, dangers to human health, and the 
unaccountable way in which GE foods are being 
introduced, campaigners have turned to direct 
action to ensure that the anti-genetics message 
can no longer be ignored.
About a dozen people "decontaminated" the site 
by hand. There were no arrests. The company 
behind the site, Sharpes International Seeds Ltd., 
were testing oilseed rape resistant to Monsanto's 
'Roundup' herbicide.
"By taking direct action, we are sending a clear 
message to the corporations that are trying to 
force this new technology on us. Genetic crops are 
not wanted or needed. What we really need is an 
end to the greed of corporate giants that think 
they can literally own life for profit. It is time that 
these faceless boardroom directors stopped hiding 
behind dubious science, and irresponsible 
'humanitarian' claims, and accepted the wishes of the people of Europe.
Tonight's message 
is simple - we will not accept irreversible and self-perpetuating genetic
pollution. We will not 
give control of our staple foods to business that care more for profit than
planet. We are 
here to hold them to account." said a spokesperson for the group.
Matthew Herbert of anti-genetics campaigners Fife Earth First! said "Despite
attempts to sell us 
GE crops as the cure all for the world's ills it is clear that the Biotech
companies PR is failing to 
convince people. The public see claims that GE foods are good for the planet
for what they 
really are - desperate attempts to convince an unwilling public to participate
in a global 
genetic experiment. The fact that individuals are prepared to take illegal
direct action to 
end this experiment, should alert us all to the danger posed by gene
Notes to editors
For more information , please contact Fife Earth First! on: 01334 477411 or
Engineering Network (GEN) on: 0181 374 9516.
1) On March 22nd of this year in Fife, a genetic release site of oilseed rape
was scythed by 
seven local community members. One week later Fife was declared free of
when approximately fifty adults and children pulled up the remaining crop from
the ground, 
under the gaze of the local constabulary! On May 17th another oilseed rape
crop, at the Walton Experimental farm in Aberdeen, had a huge X scythed across
2) The action in Scotland follows a week of similar actions around England.
Over a twenty 
four hour period on Wednesday and Thursday 3 & 4th of June, seven genetic
pulled up. On Monday 8th June a group calling themselves the 'Lincolnshire
Loppers' pulled 
up a demonstration crop of genetically engineered spring wheat at Cereals '98.
The total of 
known sites in the UK that have been decontaminated has now grown to 21. It is
exactly how many remain.
3) PHOTOGRAPHS of anti- GE activists decontaminating sites are available to
media and can 
be viewed at: and going to 'underground
More details on how to get hold of these photographs and others from GEN on:
0181 374 
3) Spanish Farmers Urge Gm Food Moratorium
INTERVIEW 07:57 a.m. Mar 22, 1999 Eastern
By David Brough
LISBON, March 22 (Reuters) - Leading Spanish farmers' group COAG is calling 
for a moratorium on genetically modified (GM) planting and foods until 
possible health risks are fully investigated, a spokesman said on Monday. 
``We need to know what we are planting and consuming,'' Lluis Nomen, COAG's 
chief environment spokesman, told Reuters in a telephone interview from 
Reus in northeastern Spain. He said COAG, a national body representing some 
200,000 Spanish farmers, was demanding a moratorium on using GM organisms 
in planting and foodstuffs until scientists had completed investigations 
into possible health risks. ``We want to be sure that scientific research 
is made public and that farmers and consumers are informed,'' he said.
(Lisbon newsroom +351-1-3113124
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.
Tom Schweiger, Greenpeace International, April 1999
Commercial growing of a GE crop has so far only happened in Spain in 1998, 
where about 20.000 ha of Novartis' Bt-maize were grown. 
Experimental field trials are much harder to monitor, because they are 
regulated purely on a national level. We don't have any up-to-date 
overview, but do know that no field trials have ever taken place in Austria.

* In France a partial moratorium is already in place on the growing 
of transgenic crops with wild relatives in France, such as beet and 
* In addition the French Conseil d'Etat, France's highest 
administrative court, suspended authorisation to grow Novartis' GE maize in 
France. Following this ruling the French government decides that all of 
Novartis' maize harvest 1998 must be segregated and stored separately until 
the Conseil's final verdict, not expected until mid 1999 and after an 
opinion expressed by the ECJ.
* In two further Member States (UK and Denmark) partial de-facto 
moratoria have been imposed on commercial growing of GMOs.
* In four Member States (Austria, France, Greece and Luxembourg) 
certain GMO-products have been banned for import and selling after 
receiving EU-approval (maize and rape-seed).
* Greece has declared a total freeze of any growing (experimental and 
commercial) of GMO crops.
* In addition, Member States authorities did not find the necessary 
majorities to approve any new GMO-product since April 1998. Four 
applications are currently dead-locked: a transgenic maize (a Monsanto 
product, but applied for by Pioneer), Zeneca's tomato and two Monsanto 
Bt-cotton applications.

Brussels / Athens 01/04/1999 -- Greenpeace International today welcomed the 
initiative of the Greek government for a European wide moratorium of all 
commercial releases of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and of any 
trade in genetically engineered seeds.
The initiative was released yesterday by the deputy minister for the 
environment Theodoros Koliopanos in Athens. Koliopanos also announced that 
all experimental plantings of GMOs presently pending in Greece have been 
rejected. (1)
"This is another strong voice for precaution", said Greenpeace 
Internationals genetic engineering expert Benedikt Haerlin, "and it is a 
clear signal against the genetic contamination of Europe." 
Haerlin welcomed Kolliopanos' announcement that Greece will seek to form an 
alliance with like-minded European governments to at least block any 
further approvals of GMOs.
At the next meeting of Environmental Ministers on June 24/25th the revision 
of the European Directive on the deliberate release of GMOs (90/220) is 
expected to be discussed.
"We call upon member states, especially the German Presidency, to take 
swift action to stop further releases of GMOs in Europe as this appears to 
be the consensus of a great majority of member states, and as all European 
Institutions agree that the present regulations of Directive 90/220 are no 
longer adequate" said Haerlin.
Presently the only member state of the European Union where commercial 
releases of GMOs have taken place is Spain. According to the Swiss 
multinational Novartis, around 20.000 hectares of their antibiotic 
resistant and insect killing Bt-Maize had been planted there last year. 
Novartis announced it will try to sell GMO maize again in Spain and Germany 
this year. Planting of the same maize had been banned in France last year. 
The maize is also banned in Austria and Luxembourg. In Great Britain a 
voluntary agreement seems to prevent any commercial releases and a similar 
agreement has been reached in Denmark.
For further information: 
Thomas Schweiger, Greenpeace EU Unit, +32 2 2801400 
Nikos Charalambidis, Greenpeace Greece, +30 1 380 63 74 
Benedikt Haerlin, Greenpeace International, +49 30 30889912
(1) The field trails blocked by the ministry refer to two GE sugarbeet 
varieties (Novartis, AgrEvo), four cotton varieties (3 Monsanto, 1 
Rhone-Poulenc) and one maize variety (Monsanto).

5) Monsanto's Crisis Management on the Internet 
Bivings Woodell: A Face of the Corporate America's Free- 
Trade Fundamentalism 
Monsanto's public relations over the Internet are tended by 
the Washington-based consultancy, Bivings Woodell, Inc. In 
particular, BW is managing Monsanto's corporate, UK, France 
and India sites. 
BW advertises "recognised expertise in risk communications 
and the management of controversy in the public arena, both 
in the U.S. and internationally". The company boasts a 
clientele from the Fortune 100, trading organisations, 
multinational and global bodies, among them, the American 
Plastics Council, AMR (American Airlines), American 
Petroleum Institute, Chlorine Chemistry Council Public 
Site, Coalition for Asbestos Resolution, Corporate 
Response Group, NASA, Texaco, Inc. and the Trans- Atlantic 
Business Dialogue. Of particular note amongst its Internet 
clients are the free- trade fundamentalist bodies: 
* USA*Engage, a self-described "broad coalition of 
Americans speaking out for US engagement overseas" - 
predominantly US business and agriculture - launched in 
1997. This apparent astro-turf strategic alliance operates 
on the basis of the contingent needs for American [sic] 
competitiveness and the social, technological and political 
liberation the entrance of US trade brings to the 
developing world. (<> 
* America Leads on Trade - a lobby site for FAST TRACK ("The 
Right Track for America")
Bivings Woodell: <> 

E N D of P A R T O N E 
6) The Guardian 31st march 1999 Society Environment pages
Eco Soundings
They came dressed as Frankenstein vegetables and bees, and they partied
Plymouth crown court as two women accused of ripping up a trial crop of
herbicide-resistant maize last August learned that they would not be
prosecuted. The Crown Prosecution Service gave a less-than-clear
explanation as
to why it was offering no evidence against Jacklyn Sheedy and Elizabeth Snook.
But one startling fact did emerge: when charges were first laid, the amount of
damage caused was put at an astonishing £605,000. Whoops… that should have
£5,000, the prosecution announced. Whoops again . . . the total value was "in
the region of £44,000", CPS counsel corrected himself after discussions with
his instructing solicitor. Still a bit less than £605,000 though.