Greenpeace holds GE soya importers responsible for their actions

Press release - 10 May, 2004
Seventy Greenpeace activists this morning uncovered thousands of tonnes of Genetically Engineered (GE) soya in warehouses in the Italian port of Ravenna. Recent samples taken from one of the warehouses have proven to be GE positive. Activists from Italy, Spain, Austria, Finland, Denmark and Norway are currently preventing any GE soya from leaving the facility and are taking further samples.

Greenpeace climbers hang a banner reading

The activists have cordoned off the area and are displaying banners declaring 'Europe says no to GMOs' and 'No to GE Food'. Greenpeace wants the port of Ravenna to become a GE-Free zone and an end to GE soya imports in Italy.

"Ravenna is the main entry point of GE contamination into Italy," said Greenpeace Italy campaigner Federica Ferrario. "GE soya is being grown to feed the vast profits of a few large farmers and a few global agri-business companies such as Bunge, Cargill and Dreyfus. These companies plus others control the seeds, the trucks, the shipping and the processing of this GE soya. These companies control the import market and could within one year supply non-GE for every import to Ravenna and for all of Italy if they so choose. So why do they choose to import GE soya?"

Greenpeace is challenging importers and food companies, who are buying GE soya, to respond to Greenpeace's demands that they go GE free.

- Do they only import GE soya or, do they also import non-GE soya?

- Do they keep the non-GE separate from the GE soya?

- Which food companies buy these GE soya imports and which food products are they being used to produce?

- Will they label the meat and dairy products from the animals that eat this GE soya?

- Do they want our protest to continue or do they want to give a commitment to make Ravenna GE Free, as a first step to making all imports to Italy GE Free?

Italy imports 4.2 million tonnes of soya annually for food and for animal feed (1). The port of Ravenna accounts for an estimated 2 million tonnes of these imports and so is the main entry point for GE contamination into Italy (2).

Management of the nearby Bunge/Cereol soya bean processing facility have told Greenpeace that they are currently GE-free because they are importing non-GE soya from Brazil, but also that they may re-start GE imports in October. Bunge/Cereol have two other soya bean processing facilities in Italy at Ancona and Porta Maghera and also import GE soya meal from Argentina.

Daniela Montalto, Greenpeace campaigner from Argentina who is at the scene in Ravenna said: "GE soya covers over 14 million hectares in Argentina. It is green but it is a desert. Now also forest lands are being converted for GE soya production. For the future health and wealth of Argentina the GM soya monoculture must be stopped."

Greenpeace has stepped up its campaign around the world against GE food. Many shipments carrying soya suspected of being contaminated with GE are being targeted in ports around the world. Last night, two Greenpeace activists remained on board the Keoyang Majesty from Argentina, in the Italian port of Chioggia. Two days ago in Brazil, another Argentinean ship 'Global Wind', which had been targeted last week, left without loading non-GE soya on top of its GE cargo. Shoppers Guides have been launched in twenty countries including France, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Italy, the guides will effectively educate millions of consumers about GE products.

Follow the global Greenpeace campaign for a GE-free future at:

VVPR info: Video available from +31 635 504 721Photos available from John Novis +31 653 819 121

Notes: 1) European statistics office 20022) Ausl di Ravenna - Area VeterinariaNew EU regulations on traceability and labelling of GE crops came into force three weeks ago; however, Greenpeace is highly critical of a major loophole in the new EU rules, with regard to meat and dairy products, insisting that for consumer choice to be meaningful, meat and dairy products from animals fed with GMOs must also be labelled.