Greenpeace activists close down GE potato depot


12/04/2010 The banner reads, 'EU GE Potato Depot Closed' There is 360 tons of GMO potato Amflora stored waiting for transportation to the Czech republic.

As the GE Free Bus is on its way to Spain, other Greenpeace volunteers become active in other places. In Germany, Greenpeace activists locked the warehouse in Bütow, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, in which the controversial GE potato variety Amflora is being kept. The activists had chained themselves to the entrance alongside a banner bearing the message “EU Depot for Genetically Modified Potatoes Closed”. They wanted to prevent its cultivation by calling the government to act.

“This potato ought to be locked away. Cultivating and distributing Amflora is illegal,” says Martin Hofstetter, an agricultural expert for Greenpeace. “The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Ilse Aigner, must ban the genetically modified crop immediately.”

The activity ended when the police arrested the activists but they found support from Mr. Backhaus, the agriculture and environmental Minister of Mecklenburg Vorpommern who wrote to Angela Merkel that he opposes the GE potato.

Some background to the issue

Some 360 tonnes of the GE potato Amflora are stored on the premises of the potato grower “Gut Bütow”, waiting to be planted in the European Union. The facility is also preparing to cultivate the GE potato in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.

From today on, three months after registering it in the government land register, the GE potato is allowed to be planted. However a recent legal expertise submitted by Greenpeace shows that the cultivation and distribution of Amflora violates EU law.

According to an independent legal assessment published by Greenpeace in March, the license issued for Amflora contravenes the EU directive on the release of GMOs. Since 2004, it has been illegal to commercialise genetically engineered plants containing genes that promote a resistance to antibiotics, which could present a health threat.

The inadequate investigation of potential ecological risks also violates the directive. Despite this, the European Commission licensed Amflora at the beginning of March for cultivation and use, as well as for animal feed and human consumption.

This seems pretty grim, but we are currently working on a solution. With 1 million citizens' signatures, we can make an official legal request to the European Commission. The request is to put a ban on GE-foods until sufficient research has been done of the effects on our health and the environment. Sign the petition and let's get to 1 million!

Activity against GE potato in Sweden


11/04/2010 The manifestation was an extension of Greenpeace International's current 'GE Free Future' bus tour throughout Europe.

In northern Europe, in Sweden this time, 150 people gathered by the parliament building in Stockholm, to say "NEJ" (means NO in Swedish), "to GE-potato". The protesters sat down to eat some GE free potato soup (made from organic, vegan and local produce). The activity was part of Greenpeace’s GE-free future tour and volunteers where collecting names for the petition to be sent to the European Commission for a moratorium on GE foods.

The Swedish campaign manager Patrik Eriksson talked about the problem and risks of GE potato and two famous chefs talked about their perspective on GE. They clearly expressed their love for real food, and stressed their big concern over GE.

Farmers also attended the event. One of them is an organic potato farmer from Sweden´s first GE-free zone, and the other farmer from Biodynamic farming organization. They have been active in rejecting the use of GE crops in Swedish agriculture and raising the political issue.

Among the 150 people, there were quite a few worried bee-keepers who came with their bee-keeping gear, and they sat together with our Greenpeace bees.

Stay tuned as more activities will come and joining us in spreading the word for gathering 1 million signatures in the EU.

You can also join or GE-free future Facebook page where you can share your thoughts and receive updates.

Picture credit: © Bente Stachowske / Greenpeace, Germany

Picture credit: © Christian Åslund / Greenpeace, Sweden