GE Contamination Cases
For Immediate Release February 28, 2008
*BIOTECH IMPUNITY FUELS SPREAD OF ARTIFICIAL GENES WORLDWIDE*
/Fifty Percent of GE Contamination Cases in 2007 Originated with U.S. Crops/
WASHINGTON - Biotech companies are acting with impunity as cases of genetic engineering contamination continue globally, a new report launched today reveals. /GM Contamination Register 2007/, by Greenpeace International and GeneWatch UK, reveals 39 new instances of crop contamination in 23 countries. The report also finds that just over 50 percent of the contamination cases are the result of genetically engineered crops originating in the U.S.
Contamination involved such staple crops as rice and corn, but also included soy, cotton, canola, papaya and fish, and were the result of products engineered by such companies as Monsanto, Bayer, Dupont and Dow AgroSciences. Since 2005, the annual /Register Report/ has recorded 216 contamination events in 57 countries.
"Ongoing GE contamination in the world's major food crops, particularly in rice and corn, shows that genetic engineering companies are failing to keep control of their artificial genes," said Greenpeace scientist Dr. Doreen Stabinsky. "It is vital that mandatory international liability standards are developed to hold GE companies accountable for illegal contamination. Farmers need to be protected and compensated for the losses they suffer from this pollution."
The report is being released on the same day that Kenyan environmental and farmers' organizations are expected to confront their government and United States seed giant Pioneer Hi-Bred with evidence of GE-contaminated maize seed in their country, and activists in the Netherlands protested shipments of illegal GE-rice varieties to Rotterdam.
In Kenya, Greenpeace, in cooperation with local organizations, commissioned independent tests of corn seed varieties sold commercially. The corn was found to contain MON 810, a GE variety that is not approved for planting in Kenya and is banned in several European countries.
In the Netherlands, rice shipped from the U.S. to Rotterdam was found contaminated with GE varieties not permitted for consumption outside the U.S. According to Greenpeace Netherlands' GE campaigner Marietta Harjono, Rotterdam Harbor is one of the world's biggest GE contamination "hot spots" due to its role as first port of entry for much of the GE-contaminated foodstuffs that enter Europe from the U.S. "Without decisive government action, the world's food and seed supplies will be under threat," said Harjono.
Next month, governments will be meeting in Cartagena, Columbia to negotiate international rules on liability under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety for damages caused by genetically engineered organisms. Several developed countries such as the United States, Japan and New Zealand are opposing a global agreement on GE liability.
*Contact information*: Jane Kochersperger, Greenpeace U.S. Media Officer, +1 202 319 2493; +1 202 680 3798 cell; Dr. Doreen Stabinsky, Greenpeace agriculture campaigner, +1 207 2765284; +1 202 2857398 cell.
For a copy of the report, go to: www.gmcontaminationregister.org