Biotech industry impunity fuels global GE contamination spread
AMSTERDAM, International — Biotech companies are acting with impunity as cases of genetic engineering (1) contamination continue on a global scale, a new report launched today reveals.
GM Contamination Register Report 2007, by Greenpeace International and GeneWatch UK, details 39 new instances of crop contamination in 23 countries over the past year. Most of the contamination involved such staple crops as rice and maize, but also included soy, cotton, canola, papaya and fish. Since 2005, the GM Contamination Register has recorded 216 contamination events in 57 countries since GE crops were first grown commercially on a large scale in 1996.
This year’s annual report on the Register is released on the same day a GE scandal in Kenya is exposed as Kenyan environmental and farmers’ organisations confront the government and United States seed giant Pioneer Hi-Bred with evidence of GE-contaminated maize seed in their country, and Greenpeace activists in the Netherlands protest shipments of illegal GE-rice varieties to Rotterdam.
“The contamination documented in the report is just the tip of the iceberg. Genetic polluters must pay. If a company contaminates our food and our environment, it must pay for the clean-up, compensate farmers, traders and consumers. We need international liability standards under the Biosafety Protocol to hold biotech companies to account (2),” Greenpeace International agriculture campaigner Dr Doreen Stabinsky stressed.
In Kenya, Greenpeace, in cooperation with local organisations, commissioned independent tests of maize seed varieties sold commercially. Pioneer’s seed maize PHB 30V53 was found to contain MON 810, a GE variety which has no approval for planting in Kenya and is banned in several European countries (3).
In the Netherlands, rice shipped from the US to Rotterdam (4) was found to be contaminated with GE varieties not permitted for consumption outside of the US. Greenpeace Netherlands’ genetic engineering campaigner Marietta Harjono says Rotterdam harbour is one of the world’s biggest “GE contamination hotspots”, due to its role as first port of entry for much of the GE contaminated foodstuffs that enter Europe from the US.
“Ongoing GE contamination in the world’s major food crops, particularly in rice and maize, shows genetic engineering companies are failing to keep control of their artificial genes. Without decisive government action, the world’s food and seed supplies will be under threat,” Stabinsky warned.
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