U.S. shipment of GE maize blocked in U.K. waters

GE maize was destined for animal feed

Press release - 21 June, 2004
A huge cargo of GE maize from the United States has been stopped from entering the port of Bristol in the UK today by Greenpeace. The MV Etoile is carrying GE maize destined for dairy farms that supply milk to Britain's biggest supermarkets.

"Our climbers have stopped a massive GE cargo unloading in the United Kingdom, but now we want this ship to turn around and go back to the United States. Consumers' polls have consistently shown that the majority of consumers prefer GE-free food," said Dan Hindsgaul, Greenpeace International GE campaigner. "What we never see is consumers demanding GE food, begging the million dollar question: why isn't the global food industry doing more to make sure supply meets demand rather than force feeding GE food to consumers?"

Greenpeace has targeted ships carrying GE crops from Argentina and the United States in their campaign against GE crops in food and feed. Millions of tons of these GE imports are being dumped into animal feed where consumers do not know they are used and where people are not given the freedom of choice to avoid them because the meat and dairy products coming from animals fed on GE feed still do not require to be labelled.

Four climbers from the environmental group boarded the 125,000 ton ship in the Bristol Channel. They are now suspended off the ten metre high side of the Etoile with banners saying 'Stop GM Imports' below the logos of the UK's major supermarkets. The Panamanian-registered MV Etoile has gone to anchor off Rhoose, South Wales.

Official UK Government figures compiled by Greenpeace reveal that a million tons of maize and soya is entering the country every year from countries that grow GE crops(1). Growing GE crops is harmful to the environment, leading to huge increases in the use of powerful chemicals on crops. The effects of the technology are unpredictable, and no reputable studies have been conducted into the safety of GM food.

The U.S., Canada and Argentina argue that the European Union has violated WTO agreements by not authorising any new GMOs since 1998 and now wants the WTO to force the EU to accept GE food. As the largest producers of GE crops they have the most to lose from restrictions on trade in GE technology. The U.S. and Canadian Governments are also attempting to delay the publication of a report from the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which is expected to reveal caution about the potential environmental and human health impacts of transgenic maize. The report would have serious impacts on their WTO case against the EU.

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Notes: 1. http://statistics.defra.gov.uk/esg/statnot/mcompspn.pdf