This blog entry was originally written by Teresa on April 28th, but due to our website migration appears to be from a different date and author.

Yesterday morning around 7 o'clock Greenpeace activists entered a test field of the Flemish Institute for Agriculture and Fisheries Research in Wetteren, close to Ghent. They sowed organic flowers on what a few hours later would turn into the first Belgian field with genetically modified maize MON810. A tripod with the climber was installed in the field, as well as banners with the message "Sow safely or not at all" ("Zaai veilig of zaai niet").

The sowing of MON810 is an initiative of the Flemish authorities, that want to test in practice the conditions for cultivation of GE (genetically engineered) maize created by the coexistence legislation. Yesterday the King accepted the dismissal of the Belgian government. The Flemish government is explicitly promoting GE crops and heavily influenced by the strong pro-GE lobby in the region. The general policy declaration states that:

  • Flanders should contribute to the solution of the world food problem by developing GE crops
  • Flanders will plead for larger support for the use of authorized GE crops in the EU
  • EU-approved GE crops should get all chances on Flemish soil.

We focused our message on the fact that while MON810 has been banned by 6 EU member states because of environmental risks, while in Flanders it's the government itself who's sowing it. "Apparently in Flanders the interests of Monsanto have more weight than risks for the environment and public health", said Jonas Hulsens, Greenpeace Belgium Agriculture campaigner. "Instead of subsidising publicity-stunts for the biotech industry, the government should rather have a look at the conclusions of the IAASTD, and start investing in ecological farming methods that maintain the national resources our food production depends on, without adding new risks like GE crops do."

The links to our press release in Dutch and French.

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Picture credit: © Greenpeace / Philip Reynaers