Greenpeace confronts GE-ship on Polish waters

Press release - 17 November, 2005
Greenpeace today stopped the unloading of the “Hope”, a vessel carrying about 25.000 tonnes of genetically engineered (GE) soya from Argentina in the Polish port of Gdynia. Greenpeace activists from ten European countries surrounded the ship in inflatables and chained themselves to its anchor, preventing it from reaching the shore and disposing its controversial cargo. The action is a protest against the environmental problems linked with GE-farming.

Greenpeace activists from 10 European countries stop the unloading of the 'Hope', a vessel carrying about 25.000 tonnes of genetically engineered (GE) soya from Argentina in the Polish port of Gdynia. The action is a protest against the environmental problems linked with GE-farming in Argentina, where the GE soya plantations are causing deforestation, dramatic increase in the spraying of toxic herbicides and infertility of the soil.

In Argentina GE soya is causing massive environmental problems, such asdeforestation, dramatic increase in the spraying of toxic herbicidesand infertility of the soil (1).

"Thebulk of GE soya that is imported into Poland is used as animal feed,"said Geert Ritsema Greenpeace International GE campaigner. "It isabsurd that Polish pigs are eating away the environment at the otherend the planet. This must stop and we demand that the meat industry inPoland stop this import immediately."

Poland is rapidly becominga gateway through which GE soya is sneaking into the European foodchain. Over the last five years the imports of GE soya from Argentinainto Poland have risen more than six-fold (2). Meat companies in Poland- usually in foreign hands - which feed GE soya to pigs and poultry notonly sell their products in Poland but also export to other Europeancountries like Belgium, Germany, Sweden, UK, The Netherlands, Latvia,Lithuania and Romania (3). GE derived meat and other GE products bare acompletely unqualified health risk for consumers. The vast majority ofEuropeans are against GE food, but due to insufficient EU labellinglegislation they do not have the right to say "no" to such products (4).

MaciejMuskat, GE campaigner of Greenpeace Central-Eastern Europe in Polandsaid: "Seventy-six percent of Polish consumers do not want to eatgenetically engineered food and 14 out of the 16 Polish regions havedeclared themselves GE-free. But the will of this overwhelming majorityis undermined by foreign corporations who use unsustainable practicesand who are taking over the Polish food and feed market."

Muskatpoints at the example of Smithfield Foods Inc., a US-based meatcorporation that became Poland's largest meat and poultry processorafter it took over the Polish company Animex. Recent samples taken byGreenpeace reveal that in Polish Smithfield facilities GE soya is usedas animal feed (5).

Greenpeace demands Smithfield and other meat companies in Poland to stop using GE soya.

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organization, which uses non-violent, creative communication tools to put the

spotlight on global environmental problems and to drive towards solutions essential for a green and peaceful future.

VVPR info: Geert Ritsema, GE campaigner, Greenpeace International +31 646 197328Maciej Muskat, GE campaigner, Greenpeace CEE in Poland +48 509 058651Judit Kalovits, Greenpeace International Communications, +3162129 6914For photo/video:John Novis, Greenpeace International Photo Desk +31 653 819121Maarten Van Rouverooy, Greenpeace International Video Desk +31 545 197322

Notes: (1) For more information of environmental and health risks of genetic engineering see Greenpeace briefings “Environmental and health concerns of genetically engineered (GE) crops in animal feed” and “The expanding soybean frontier. Argentina’s dangerous reliance on genetically engineered soybean” at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/geanimalfeed and at www.greenpeace.org/geargentina (2) According to statistics from the Argentinean Ministry of Agriculture in 2001 112.364 tons of soya were exported from Argentina to Poland. In 2005 this figure has risen to 696.879 tons. In Argentina an estimated 99 % of the cultivated soya is genetically engineered. See: http://www.sagpya.mecon.gov.ar/new/0-0/agricultura/otros/exportaciones/index.php(3) According to their website, Animex – the biggest meat producer in Poland – exports to Belgium, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, USA, Lebanon, The Netherlands, UK and Sweden (http//www.zm-mazury.pl/o_firmie.php)(4) Under the current EU-law, products – such as eggs, meat and milk – derived from animals fed on genetically engineered animal feed do not have to be labelled. However, if they would be given the choice, the vast majority of consumers in both Poland and other EU countries would avoid buying such products. For example, recent opinion polls commissioned by Greenpeace show that 76 % of consumers in Poland, 68 % in Germany and 62 % in The Netherlands reject products that are derived from cows that are fed on genetically engineered crops.(5) Laboratory reports available from Greenpeace International.