GE soya importers targeted in Italy

Greenpeace holds GE soya importers responsible for their actions

Feature story - 10 May, 2004
This morning 70 international Greenpeace activists uncovered thousands of tonnes of Genetically Engineered (GE) soya in warehouses in the Italian port of Ravenna. Recent samples taken from one of the warehouses have proven to be GE positive. Activists are currently preventing any GE soya from leaving the facility and are taking further samples.

GE camaigners target warehouses in Ravenna, Italy

This next stage of the European leg of our GE campaign has seen activists cordoning off the area around the warehouses and displaying banners declaring 'Europe says no to GMOs' and 'No to GE Food'. Our aim is to make Ravenna a GE-Free zone and to end all GE soya imports in Italy.

One of our Italian activists Paola Lipari describes how this morning's events unrolled: "We wanted to find either soya beans or soya meal to analyse to find out what was GE. We formed two teams. The first went towards the warehouse of 'Docks Cereali' company and the second toward 'Eurodocks'.

"We entered the facility around 5.45 am with no problems. A security man asked us what we were doing there and we told him that we were trying to find soya to take samples to analyse. We added that we are not meant to interfere with their job. We found huge mountains of soya meal stocked into the warehouse. Finally we found soya beans and took samples from it carefully sealing them on plastic bags. We reached the exit but most of it was taken by the police, but still, some remained safe and we were able to carry it outside. In the meanwhile the second sample team also got samples."

"Ravenna is the main entry point of GE contamination into Italy," said our Italian campaigner Federica Ferrario. "GE soya is being grown to feed the vast profits of a few large farmers and a few global agri-business companies such as Bunge, Cargill and Dreyfus. These companies plus others control the seeds, the trucks, the shipping and the processing of this GE soya. They also control the import market and could within one year supply non-GE for every import to Ravenna and for all of Italy if they so choose."

Our GE campaigners are yet again challenging these multi-national companies, who are buying GE soya, to answer our questions so that consumers in Europe and farmers in Latin America can choose to go GE free. This is what we want to know:

- Do they only import GE soya or, do they also import non-GE soya?

- Do they keep the non-GE separate from the GE soya?

- Which food companies buy these GE soya imports and which food products are they being used to produce?

- Will they label the meat and dairy products from the animals that eat this GE soya?

- Do they want our protest to continue or do they want to give a commitment to make Ravenna GE Free, as a first step to making all imports to Italy GE Free?

Italy currently imports 4.2 million tonnes of soya annually for food and for animal feed. The port of Ravenna accounts for an estimated 2 million tonnes of these imports and so is the main entry point for GE contamination into Italy.

The management of the nearby Bunge/Cereol soya bean processing facility has told us that they are currently GE-free because they are importing non-GE soya from Brazil, however they added that they may re-start GE imports as of October. Bunge/Cereol has two other soya bean processing facilities in Italy in Ancona and Porta Maghera which import GE soya meal from Argentina.

Daniela Montalto, our GE campaigner from Argentina in Ravenna commented: "GE soya covers over 14 million hectares in Argentina. It is green but it is a desert. Now forest is being logged to clear the land for GE soya production. For the future health and wealth of Argentina the GM soya monoculture must be stopped."

Today's activities follow on from another important action yesterday, in Chioggia, Italy. The Esperanza intercepted the Panama-registered bulk carrier, 'Keoyang Majesty' carrying 40,000 thousands tonnes GE soya from Argentina and demanded an end to the massive contamination of the Italian food supply from these GE imports. Some of our activists are still on the boat.

Our activities in Latin America are also going well, over the weekend we had a victory in Brazil. Another Argentinean ship 'Global Wind', which we had been tracking for a few weeks, left the GE-free port of Paranagua. After 19 hours our action came to an end as our activists prevented non GE soya being loaded onto the GE contaminated ship.