|The battle over GM trials in Germany (14/8/2006)|
all items taken from AgBioView
NB The translations of the articles below for AgBioView are by Andrew Apel, who may not be the most objective of sources. The former editor of the biotech industry newsletter, AgBiotech Reporter, Apel used the Sept 11 attacks to accuse scientific critics of GM of having 'blood on their hands'. He also called on the U.S. to bomb Zambia with GM grain if it continued to reject it. Of the notoriously brutal attacks by police in Genoa on sleeping / peaceful demonstrators, he wrote: 'Only a fool goes against them [the police], and in Genoa many fools have received their due.' http://www.lobbywatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=12
The Battle Over Gene-Maize
(Translated by Andy Apel)
After a protest on a farm field, police arrest 20 Greenpeace activists
BRUNOW. In the beginning, everything was supposed to be done quickly. Nobody was supposed to catch them - the targeted location had been kept a closely guarded secret. And so yesterday morning, 20 activists of the environmental protection organization Greenpeace drove a rental truck and three cars through northern Brandenburg. Their goal: a four-hectare field with genetically modified maize near the village of Brunow in Märkisch-Oderland county.
Many residents of the village looked on in surprise as the column of vehicles with Hamburg and Berlin registrations rushed through. The drivers continued through a nature preserve - next to it stood the gene-maize. "We want to make a symbolic statement against the cultivation of gene-maize," said Greenpeace expert Alexander Hissting.
Second action in ten days
Each of the activists donned white overalls with hoods, rubber boots, and breathing masks. It set quite a scene: It looked like the aftermath of a disaster at a chemical factory. "We will harvest a small section of the field of gene-maize and deliver it to the Heilbronn headquarters of the Campina dairy company", Hissting said. The vast majority of Germans reject genetically manipulated food. However, gene-maize is being grown on a field owned by a farmer who supplies milk to Campina, one of the three largest German milk-processing companies. The company also promotes its products as "earth friendly." "Gene-maize and gene-soy are grown for these products," said Hissting. "The companies don't care about what consumers want. Campina and other large milk processors must forbid their suppliers to use gene-maize as feed."
With this protest action, Brandenburg became a battleground in the conflict over the cultivation of gene-plants for the second time in ten days. On July 30, 100 members of the national protest network "Out With Gene Trash" destroyed about 1,000 square meters of a gene-maize field near Zehdenick. The environmental activists return again and again to Brandenburg, because about half of the nation's gene-maize is grown there.
Yesterday, Greenpeace activists armed with sickles ran into the field, lopped off 50 square meters gene-maize, and stuffed it in 30 yellow garbage cans they had brought with them, which were labeled "Gene-maize is Hazardous Waste", or into giant home-made yoghurt cups. When they loaded the containers into the truck, William Manzel confronted them - the head of the agricultural cooperative which was growing the gene-maize. "Stop immediately!" he shouted. Tractors blocked the escape route of the environmentalists, and the police moved in.
After that, everyone had lots of time on their hands. The police took statements, the activists and farmers argued about genetic engineering. Manzel said that the cooperative was only testing whether gene-maize is actually resistant to a parasite. "We promised Campina that we would not feed gene-maize to our cows. We supply it to a feed manufacturer[!!!]," he said. A Greenpeace representative asked: "If you won't use the maize as feed, why grow it?" He explained that last year, another farmer in Brandenburg had also promised not to feed gene-maize to his cows, but did so anyhow.
"We farmers are only the last link in the chain, but we are treated like criminals," Manzel said. "Why don't you protest with the companies or feed manufacturers?" Hissting replied: "That's exactly what we want to do - with your gene-maize in front of company headquarters."
The activists wanted to pay for the maize, in order to be able to keep it. Greenpeace estimated the damages to be worth, at most, ten euros. The farmer, however, said that at least 100 euros was due. Therefore, the matter was treated as more than a simple prank. "You are under arrest," said the leader of the police team. The 20 activists were fingerprinted at the police station. The truck with gene-maize was seized.
Planned Environmental Release in Gatersleben: Gene Wheat Threatens the Inheritance of Mankind
(Translated by Andy Apel)
For the first time since 2004, there is in Germany once again an application for open-air field trials of genetically manipulated wheat. A formal request has been filed by the Institute for Plant Genetics and Crop Research [Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung (IPK)] in Gatersleben with the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety [Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit]. The location of the field trial is in close proximity to fields used by the Gatersleben gene bank in Sachsen-Anhalt. There, hundreds of old wheat varieties are stored, which for preservation must be replanted again and again in the open.
Genetic pollution of this inheritance of mankind, either by the flight of pollen, or carried by animals, would result in an irreplaceable loss for future breeding efforts. That is because old varieties, so-called "heirloom" varieties, contain many resistances against different diseases and growing conditions such as drought or salt. For these reasons, experts call it the "life insurance of mankind". Andreas Bauer, a genetic engineering expert and agrarian scientist with Umweltinstitut Munich, has this criticism: "So far, all field trials