MARMANDE, France - July 27 - Early this morning a group of Greenpeace
activists entered a GE maize field in Grezet Cavagnan, Southern France
and carved a giant "crop circle" with an "X" in the GE maize, marking
the field as a contamination zone. The action was in response to a
ruling by a French court yesterday, in which Greenpeace France was
ordered to take down maps from its Web site that showed the location of
commercial GE maize fields in France.
The field that the activists 'crop circled' today was one of the two GE
maize fields highlighted on the censored Web page. "As we are now
forbidden to publish these maps of GE maize on our webpage, we have gone
into the fields and marked it for real," said Arnaud Apoteker, of
Greenpeace France. "We will continue to show where GE maize is grown,
until the French Government fulfils its responsibility and publishes an
official register of GE fields that is accessible to every citizen."
The EU legislation (Directive 2001/18) that deals with GE organisms
shows how EU member states are obliged to maintain public registers in
order to inform their citizens about the locations of GE fields. But the
French Government has yet to make the EU's directive into national law,
thus depriving its citizens of vital information to protect against the
risk of GE contamination of conventional and organic food.
"By publishing secret locations of fields of genetically engineered
maize, Greenpeace is defending the right to know and say no to the
environmental and health risks associated with GE Organisms", said Geert
Ritsema of Greenpeace International. "It is absurd that the French legal
system has prevented Greenpeace France from providing vital information
to the public, which according to EU legislation should have been
published years ago by the French government."
Internationally, Greenpeace will continue to expose the locations of GE
fields. Although the map showing the French GE maize fields has had to
be removed from Greenpeace Frances' Web site it is now available at:
www.greenpeace.org The map will also be distributed virally via email
and in doing so be available to millions of people around the world. The
action today marks the beginning of a global campaign to inform the
public about the risks of GE maize cultivation for the environment and
to human health.
France is not the only EU country where the growing of GE organisms is
shrouded in secrecy. In Spain, the government has so far refused to
publish the locations of GE fields. The dramatic consequences of this
policy became clear in April of this year when Greenpeace published a
report 'Impossible Coexistence' showing that in nearly 20 % of the
investigated cases, neighbouring conventional and organic maize fields
in Spain are contaminated by GE organisms, without farmers and consumers
even knowing about it. (2)
Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that is
grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity
and providing all people to have access to safe and nutritious food.
Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that
contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses
unacceptable risks to health.
For further information and interviews
Currently in Southern France;
Geert Ritsema, Greenpeace International GE campaigner, mob +31 646 197 328 Arnaud Apoteker, Greenpeace France GE campaigner, mob + 33 6 0757 3160
Suzette Jackson, Greenpeace International communications officer mob +31
646 197 324
For images and video
Franca Michienzi mob +31 6 5381 9255
Hester van Meurs mob +31 6 2900 1135
Notes for Editors
(1) Impossible Coexistence: How seven years of growing GE organisms have
contaminated organic and conventional maize: an examination of the cases
of Catalonia and Aragon, is available for downloading at: www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/impossible-coexistence
The report, which was written by Greenpeace in cooperation with farmer
organisation Assemblea Pagesa and civil society group Plataforma
Trangènics Fora!, was launched in April 2006.