Genetically engineered organisms out of control in Romania

Ex-Monsanto director speaks out

Press release - 10 October, 2005
Massive illegal cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops threatens farmers and the economy in Romania. At a Greenpeace press conference today in Bucharest, Monsanto's former general manager in Romania warned that Romanian authorities have totally lost control over genetically modified organisms in the country.

During a research tour in Romania, Greenpeace discovered illegalgrowing of GE soya in ten counties of the country's total 42.Greenpeace presented findings (1) that prove that Romanian authoritieshave lost control over the situation.

Romania, a future member of the EU, is the only country in Europe whereplanting of the controversial Roundup Ready (RR) soya is allowed. Thecountry has the largest GE-cultivated landscape in Europe; officiallyhalf the 140,000 hectares of soya planted in 2005 is registered to beGE.

However, according to representatives of farmers' associations and evenbiotech giant Monsanto's former Romanian manager, up to 90% of soya isGE. The core of the problem is due to genetically engineered cropscontaminating the traditional cultures, as well as the illegal sellingof GE soya seeds.

Gabriel Paun, Greenpeace Central-Eastern European (CEE) campaigner inRomania said: "In the past few months we have found GE potatoes, GEplums and now it turns out that even the commercial planting of GE soyahappens illegally.

What's next? The Romanian government must act immediately and take backcontrol of the situation."Mr. Dragos Dima, former Monsanto general manager in Romania agrees withthe fears. Speaking at the press conference, he said: "Such a hugesurface of uncertified GM soya is not tolerable due to lack ofmonitoring and control systems.

I left the company because I expressed my concerns regarding theintroduction of GM technology in Romania. I believed that neitherRomania nor the company were ready and able to monitor and control theGM technology. Unfortunately, the management has not listened to myconcerns and the situation today shows a total lack of control over theGM technology."

Mr. Dima left Monsanto in December 1998, while GE soy was introduced inRomania in 1999."Monsanto knowingly pushed Romania in a technology that had to lead toa situation out of control. Romanian farmers and food companies nowhave to suffer the economic consequences," added Paun.Since their introduction in 1996, GE crops have contaminated food,feed, seed and the environment right across the globe.

Worldwide over 100 incidents of illegal or unlabelled GE contaminationhave been documented in 27 countries on 5 continents - and thoserepresent only the recorded incidents.

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Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation, which usesnon-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmentalproblems, and to force the solutions that are essential to a green andpeaceful future.

Other contacts: Gabriel Paun, Greenpeace CEE campaigner in Romania, phone: +40 744 351977Anamaria Bogdan, Greenpeace CEE Media in Romania, phone: +40 0721 632396Susanne Fromwald, Greenpeace CEE scientist in Austria, phone: +43 664 6126706

Notes: (1) The report "A Documentation of Contamination and Illegal GM Soya cultivation in Romania" in Romanian language is based on findings of Greenpeace in August 2005. Analytical results mentioned in the report were done by the Umweltbundesamt, an independent, EU-certified laboratory for polymerase chain reactions, PCRs, in Vienna, Austria. PCR analysis is a genetic test for plants or food to see whether genetic modifications are present in a specific sample.(2) If they want to plant Roundup Ready soya, farmers only need to register with the authorities. It only is considered illegal as if they don't register.