Massive police presence as activists occupy Monsanto GE facility

Press release - 13 April, 2006
Massive police presence as Greenpeace, Jose Bove from Faucheurs Volontaires and Confederation Paysanne occupied Monsanto's seed facility in Trebes, France. Over 75 activists have occupied the facility and are currently holding a citizens inspection in the search for genetically engineered (GE) maize seeds. They have demanded that Monsanto and the French authorities stop import and distribution of GE maize seed into France.

French police carrying a protestor.Greenpeace, Confederation paysanne and Faucheurs Volontaires activists occupy Monsanto seed production facilities in Carcassonne, France, demanding the french authorities to stop import and distribution of genetically engineered (GE) seeds.

"We are here to demand that the French authorities ban GE seed andin the interim corporate conglomerate Monsanto must stop hiding wherethese environmentally destructive maize seeds are to be grown. Farmersand consumers have the right to know where GE seeds are enteringagriculture and the food-chain, so they can protect themselves againstgenetic contamination." Said Jose Bove from Faucheurs Volontaires.

The 'GE free citizens inspection unit' consisting of over 100conventional and organic farmers, members of the public and activistsfrom across Europe were welcomed by over 50 policemen, including somewith police dogs. But over 75 activists managed to occupy the facilityaffectively shutting it down. The protesters aim to stop distributionof GE maize seeds, and to influence the new GE law currently beingdiscussed in the French parliament. The new law, if passed, would allowmassive genetic contamination of both organic and conventional maize.(1)

"We are putting Monsanto on notice, along with each and everyBiotech firm that is contaminating our fields and our food supply now -or has future plans to introduce GE seeds - this is the beginning, wewill not stop until France is

declared a GE free zone." Said Olivier Keller, national secretary of the Confederation Paysanne.

"GE is harming the environment and is causing genetic contamination of the

food-chain and agriculture, thus threatening the right of farmersand consumers to grow and eat GE free food. Recently thousands havetaken in to the streets in Vienna, France and other countries aroundthe world to protest against these unjust practices. Governments mustnow listen to their people and 'cease and desist' on the importationand growing of GE seed." Said Geert Ritsema, Greenpeace InternationalGE campaigner.

Yesterday the Slovakian inspectorate of environment published adecision that states Monsanto will not distribute there GE maize forthe 2006 growing season, effectively shutting out, sales of GE maizefor the next year. The halt was put in place, due in part, to pressurefrom Greenpeace on the Slovakian inspectorate to answer growingconcerns about environmental damage and contamination caused by GEmaize. (2)

"Resistance against GE in our fields and food has been growing globally since

its release onto the market nearly 10 years ago. In Europe alone 172 regions

have declared themselves GE free, and around the world many othergovernments, farmers and citizens are uniting to keep their countriesGE free," concluded Geert Ritsema Greenpeace International GEcampaigner.

Other contacts: For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:Geert Ritsema Greenpeace International GE campaigner in Trebes, France +31 646 197 328Arnaud Greenpeace France GE campaigner in Trebes, France +33 6 07 57 31 60 Adelaide Colin Greenpeace France communications officer in Trebes, France +33 6 84 25 08 25Olivier Keller, national secretary of the Confederation Paysanne in Trebes, France +33 626 451 948Christine Thelen, coordinator of the Faucheurs Volontaires in Trebes, France +33 672 980 613Suzette Jackson Greenpeace International communications officer in Amsterdam +31 646 197 324

Notes: Relevant DocumentGreenpeace International GE Maize briefing Notes to Editors(1) It is expected that a draft of the genetically modified organism law will have its final reading in the French Parliament soon. The draft law would allow the presence of 0.9 percent of GE maize in all maize fields in France. According to Greenpeace and independent lawyers this will not only lead to massive genetic contamination of the French countryside, but it will also undermine freedom of choice for consumers and farmers and violate current EU legislation.(2) On April 12th the inspectorate of environment in Slovakia published adecision halting - for the 2006 growing season - any commercial sales ofgenetically engineered (GE) maize seeds of the type MON810 produced by US based biotech giant Monsanto. GE maize variety MON 810 is the only genetically engineered crop that is allowed for cultivation throughout the EU.