GE canola knows no borders (16/3/2008)


2.Activists protest at World Biofuels Market

Greenpeace press release

Ardno, Victoria, 16 March 2008: Greenpeace activists trained in procedures for dealing with genetic hazardous materials, have entered a genetically engineered (GE) canola field trial near the border of South Australia. The activists have unfurled a giant 20m x 30m banner in the field, reading 'GE CANOLA KNOWS NO BORDERS'. The action comes two days after the New South Wales (NSW) Government officially announced that it would join Victoria in commercially growing GE canola.

The activity sends a strong message to State governments that GE canola crops can cross state borders and contaminate conventional crops. It highlights that the NSW and Victorian Governments have no adequate measures in place to deal with the serious issues caused by GE contamination.

Greenpeace genetic engineering coordinator Michelle Sheather said, 'The minority states of NSW and Victoria are threatening the entire country’s GE free status by allowing the first commercial release of GE canola. This GE canola field trial has just been harvested and is contaminated by GE canola debris. What procedures have been put in place to contain this harvest, transport and clean up? In Australia it will be impossible to prevent GE canola from contaminating non-GE crops or cross-breeding with other weed species.'

'The NSW and Victorian State governments must implement and explain in detail the contamination procedures they intend to set in place to protect farmers, food companies, and consumers from the unwanted contamination of our fields and foods,' said Ms Sheather.

An annual report on global GE contamination incidents was released by Greenpeace International and Gene Watch UK last week, and presented to the United Nations. It highlighted that Argentina, rejected GE canola because of contamination issues.

GE canola can cross-pollinate with conventional canola and other weeds, creating ‘superweeds’, permanently resistant to glyphosate (Roundup). Farmers must then resort to highly toxic sprays to control them. Argentina rejected GE canola precisely for this reason, and Australia should take these concerns extremely seriously. Recent Canadian research has confirmed that cross-pollination between canola and weed species has occurred in Canada.

The South Australian Government recently announced it would extend its ban on GE canola, due to concerns over loss of markets such as Japan and Europe. Australian canola currently attracts preferential market access and premiums because of its GE free status.

'There is a real threat that GE canola will cross the South Australian border and contaminate other farmers crops. The Victorian and NSW Governments should not act alone on this issue. The threats that GE crops pose to Australia’s environment, public health and the economy are too grave,' concluded Ms Sheather.

Media contacts:

Michelle Sheather, Greenpeace genetic engineering campaign coordinator: 0417 241 371 Teri Calder, Greenpeace media officer: 0419 697 515

Images and video of the activity can be downloaded here at 12.00pm
http://media.greenpeace.org.au username: photos Password: green
Images & video contact: Abram Powell, Greenpeace AV Coordinator: 0409 812 641
Greenpeace International's global contamination report can be downloaded at:


2.Activists protest at World Biofuels Market
Bill Weinberg
Bill Weinberg's blog, 16 March 2008

On March 14, activist group 'Agrofools' closed down the World Biofuels Market meeting in Brussels by sealing four sets of double doors with padlocks and chains and barring access with their bodies just before the official opening. A battle ensued between protesters and security at the fifth set of doors. Outside the conference center the gates were also locked by a chain and blocked by activist group Rhythms of Resistance, who kept up a samba beat at their action for nearly two hours before being given an ultimatum by police. Banners read 'Agrofuels are a Scam' and 'No Solution to Oil Addiction.' (Press release via Indymedia UK, March 14) http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/03/393768.html

In a related action March 7, some 300 Brazilian women occupied a Monsanto research unit, uprooting a tree nursery and an experimental field of genetically modified corn. The action was undertaken to protest the Brazilian government's decision last month to approve two varieties of GMO corn for commercial useMON 810, produced by Monsanto, and Liberty Link, made by Germany's Bayer CropScience. (Reuters, March 7)

On March 4, hundreds of women invaded Swedish-Finnish timber multinational Stora Enso's Fazenda Tarumă plantation in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. The group Via Campesina claims Stora Enso is breaking Brazilian laws forbidding foreign companies from owning land in border areas. 'To plant in this green desert near the [Uruguayan] border is a crime against our country and against the pampa ecosystem,' said the group in statement released to the Brazilian media. (The Local, Sweden, March 5)

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