Greenpeace Crop Circle: 'X' marks the spot in French GE maize field

Press release - 27 July, 2006
Early this morning a group of Greenpeace activists entered a GE maize field in Grezet Cavagnan, Southern France and carved a giant "crop circle" with an "X" in the GE maize, marking the field as a contamination zone. The action was in response to a ruling by a French court yesterday, in which Greenpeace France was ordered to take down maps from its Web site that showed the location of commercial GE maize fields in France.

Genetically Engineered (GE) maize field in Southern France with a giant 'crop circle' with an 'X' in the GE maize, marking the field as a contamination zone. The action was in response to a ruling by a French court in which Greenpeace France was ordered to take down maps of commercial GE maize fields in France from its website.

The field that the activists 'crop circled' today was one of the two GE maize fields highlighted on the censored Web page. "As we are now forbidden to publish these maps of GE maize on our webpage, we have gone into the fields and marked it for real," said Arnaud Apoteker, of Greenpeace France. "We will continue to show where GE maize is grown, until the French Government fulfils its responsibility and publishes an official register of GE fields that is accessible to every citizen."

The EU legislation (Directive 2001/18) that deals with GE organisms shows how EU member states are obliged to maintain public registers in order to inform their citizens about the locations of GE fields. But the French Government has yet to make the EU's directive into national law, thus depriving its citizens of vital information to protect against the risk of GE contamination of conventional and organic food.

"By publishing secret locations of fields of genetically engineered maize, Greenpeace is defending the right to know and say no to the environmental and health risks associated with GE Organisms", said Geert Ritsema of Greenpeace International. "It is absurd that the French legal system has prevented Greenpeace France from providing vital information to the public, which according to EU legislation should have been published years ago by the French government."

Internationally, Greenpeace will continue to expose the locations of GE fields. Although the map showing the French GE maize fields has had to be removed from Greenpeace Frances' Web site it is now available at:  The map will also be distributed virally via email and in doing so be available to millions of people around the world. The action today marks the beginning of a global campaign to inform the public about the risks of GE maize cultivation for the environment and to human health.

France is not the only EU country where the growing of GE organisms is shrouded in secrecy.  In Spain, the government has so far refused to publish the locations of GE fields. The dramatic consequences of this policy became clear in April of this year when Greenpeace published a report 'Impossible Coexistence' showing that in nearly 20 % of the investigated cases, neighbouring conventional and organic maize fields in Spain are contaminated by GE organisms, without farmers and consumers even knowing about it. (2)

Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that is grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity and providing all people to have access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses unacceptable risks to health.

VVPR info: Geert Ritsema, Greenpeace International GE campaigner, mob +31 646 197 328Arnaud Apoteker, Greenpeace France GE campaigner, mob + 33 6 0757 3160Suzette Jackson, Greenpeace International communications officer mob +31 646 197 324For images and videoPicture deskFranca Michienzi mob +31 6 5381 9255Video deskHester van Meurs mob +31 6 2900 1135

Notes: Impossible Coexistence: How seven years of growing GE organisms have contaminated organic and conventional maize: an examination of the cases of Catalonia and Aragon, is available for downloading at: report, which was written by Greenpeace in cooperation with farmer organisation Assemblea Pagesa and civil society group Plataforma Trangènics Fora!, was launched in April 2006.