Greenpeace quarantines Braila Island in Romania, to prevent spread of illegal GMO Soya contamination

Press release - 5 September, 2007
Greenpeace activists today put Braila island, on the Danube, under quarantine, after Greenpeace field investigations revealed that illegal Genetically Modified (GMO) Soya, is being grown and harvested there. It is illegal for EU member states, including Romania, to cultivate GMO Soya.Greenpeace calls on the Romanian government and the European Commission to act immediately to locate and destroy all of the illegally cultivated GMO Soya.

The peaceful action in Romania, began at 8 am, this morning. 30 Greenpeace activists from across Europe [1], took control of the ferry harbour area on the Braila. The volunteers have set up a 'decontamination station' for all vehicles leaving the island, to prevent genetic contamination from spreading.

Any vehicle found transporting GMO crops from the island will be handed over to the Romanian authorities. Greenpeace climbers have also hung a 20 metre banner with the message "Stop GMO."

"We have taken action to protect the rest of Romania from contamination by these illegal GMO crops, which pose massive risks to the environment, biodiversity and human heath. Romanian people have overwhelmingly rejected GMOs [2]. This is not the first time Greenpeace has discovered illegal GMO production in Romania[3], the situation is out of control.

The Government must immediately locate and destroy all of the crops before they enter the food chain," said Gabriel Paun, Greenpeace Romania, GM campaigner.

Greenpeace is also alarmed by the news that elsewhere in Romania a variety of GMO maize (Monsanto MON810) is being grown across 332 hectares of fields [4]. MON810 is authorised within the EU, but its cultivation in Romania violates national laws, as the company responsible, Monsanto, failed to notify the relevant authorities of their intention to grow it.

Greenpeace activists in France have also taken action today. 20 volunteers are painting a field of illegally grown MON810 bright red, in order to expose its location. The GMO maize is being illegally grown, as either the farmer, or the French government have not declared it.

"By failing to take control, the Romanian and French governments are allowing biotech companies such as Monsanto, to run riot over their environment and ignore the wishes of European people; contaminating their food and their fields" said Myrto Pispini, Greenpeace International GMO campaigner.

"Thankfully the vast majority of European agriculture remains GMO free. But GMOs are grown in some smaller areas; all too often in violation of both EU and national laws."

Greenpeace calls on the European commission as well as the Romanian and French governments and all other member states to:

Immediately decontaminate the environment and the food chain from any GM organisms that have been released into the environment, and ensure that proper measures are taken to avoid contamination scandals in the future.

Protect and promote agriculture and food production from the threat of GMOs by banning the import and cultivation of all GMO crops, in particular of Monsanto's GM maize MON810.

VVPR info: Gabriel Paun, Greenpeace GM campaigner, Romania, (on site) + 40 744 351 977, +40 730 097 886Myrto Pispini, Greenpeace International GM campaigner (on site) +40 727 00 2012Magali Ringoot, Greenpeace GM campaigner France +33 673 894 890Marco Contiero, Greenpeace EU Unit, Policy Director on GMOs+32 477 777 7034Jo Kuper, Greenpeace International Communications +31 6 46 16 20 39For images please contact Greenpeace International picture desk +31 20 718 2058For video footage please contact Greenpeace International video desk +31 6 46 19 73 22

Notes: A background media briefing on GMOs in Romania is available at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/releases/briefing-romania-a-playgrou [1] The quarantine was set up by 30 Greenpeace activists from Romania, Hungary, Austria, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Greece and Scotland (UK)[2] The result of a Greenpeace commissioned poll found 67% of Romanians reject GMO foods. The poll was carried out by SC Mercury Research, in May -July 2007[3] In 2006, Greenpeace exposed wide commercial cultivation of illegal GMO crops, a flourishing black market in GMO seeds, recurrent cases of contamination of processing plants and the widespread presence of illegal GMO food products on the market in Romania http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/GE-Romania [4] The Romanian Ministry of Agriculture informed Greenpeace that the MON810 crops were being cultivated, but refused to disclose their locations on grounds of 'confidentiality.'