Greenpeace bees arrested

Action draws attention to GE experiments in Swedish fields

Feature story - 14 May, 2002
Greenpeace activists' month-long protest against genetically engineered (GE) field trials ended today as police removed the protesters from the field where the open-air experiment will take place.

Swedish activist, dressed in bee costume, is arrested for protest against open-air GE experiment in Swedish field.

The activists ocupied the fields in Svalöv and Klippan, in southern Sweden since April 17. This was the week after Greenpeace learned Swedish company Svalöf Weibull had

received permission from the Swedish authorities to conduct two field trials with GE oilseed rape.

The activists drew attention to the fact that GE crops have the potential to cause widespread contamination of conventional and organic agriculture, and of food products, including honey.

Dressed as bees, the activists planted bushes, flowers and organic grass seed.

But on May 14 Svalöf Weibull attempted to start sowing at one of thei fields. The company arrived with a bulldozer and tractor, and accompanied by police, including four police cars and one helicopter. Six Greenpeace activists managed to stop the machines for several hours, but were eventually arrested. The field has now been sown with GE rape seed (canola).

Swedish authorities demand that the GE oilseed rape fields be surrounded by an eight-metre border of sterile, male rapeseed plants, and that they be distanced at least 500 metres from any

other oilseed rape plants being cultivated. However, research has shown that rapeseed pollen can spread much further through insects and wind. The risk of GE contamination has been further confirmed by a recent report of the European Environmental Agency (EEA) that described oilseed rape as high risk for gene flow from crop to crop, and from crops to wild relatives.

Greenpeace demands the immediate halt of all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) releases into the environment. Research and development should instead be focused on sustainable farming