Over 100 farmers in Northern Italy have discovered that non-genetically engineered (GE) maize seeds that they bought and planted, were in fact contaminated by GE maize. The fact that cases like this are happening on a regular basis, raises serious questions - such as how are the seeds getting contaminated in the first place? Is it part of a deliberate strategy by companies selling GE seeds?
Greenpeace marks a maize field with signs showing corn with a 'question mark' indicating that 1 in 200 maize crops can be genetically contaminated if the draft EU seed directive is passed .
The 400 hectares of GE contaminated maize will soon flower, so
government officials and farmers leaders in the Piemonte region are
meeting to work out what to do with the maize to stop further
The contamination came to light after routine seed tests by the
Italian authorities - unfortunately conducted after the seeds had
been planted. Although the exact details of what happened have yet
to be made public, local reports and previous experience suggest
that GE varieties produced by Monsanto may be the source of the
contamination. Farmers reportedly bought the seeds from the company
Pioneer Seeds that not only sells conventional non-GE seeds, but
also acts as a sales agent for Monsanto's GE seeds in many
A full investigation must be conducted not only of the
contamination in Piemonte, but of what appears to be Monsanto's
policy of deliberate contamination of non-GE seeds and farming.
Greenpeace spokesperson Federica Ferrario ask "With such cases
happening on a regular basis the question has to be asked whether
this is gross negligence or whether contamination of conventional
seeds is part of a deliberate strategy of companies who sell GE
seeds. In either case, legislation and legal action are required to
make those responsible pay for the costs associated with their
contamination and to prevent more such contamination in the
Coming less than one week after new EU legislation on labelling
and traceability of GE food and animal feed, this case highlights
two of the major loopholes still existing in European legislation
and already acknowledged by many EU governments.
"It is one thing to have good labelling laws in place which make
sure food products and animal feed are labelled if they do contain
GE ingredients, but if Monsanto and its sales agents such as
Pioneer Seeds are allowed to continually contaminate normal non-GE
seeds, then that will make an absolute nonsense of the new
legislation because it will entirely deny any choice for farmers or
for consumers", added Ferrario.
Legislation is urgently needed to prevent seed contamination and
ensure strict liability for the GE company responsible when
contamination does occur.