The Global Status of Genetically Engineered (GE) Crops

10 years of continuing rejection

Press release - 18 January, 2007
A summary of ‘Global status of genetically engineered crops’, released by Greenpeace today, provides solid evidence that resistance to genetically engineered crops continues to grow, amongst farmers, consumers and governments. The Greenpeace summary was released just hours before the expected release of an annual report by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a think-tank supported by the agrochemical industry.

Greenpeace activists create a gigantic 60 metre "NO" sign crop circle in a maize field in the state of Estado de Mexico, Central Mexico. Greenpeace is demanding the Mexico Government reject proposals to break a long standing moratorium against the cultivation of genetically Modified Maize in the region.The protest marks a day of action with Greenpeace creating crop circles in maize fields in three different continents:- Spain (Europe), Mexico (America), Philippines (Asia).

“Thereis irrefutable evidence (1) that governments, farmers and consumers throughoutthe world recognise that GE is unreliable, unviable or downright dangerous,”said Jeremy Tager, campaigner for Greenpeace International, “Market reaction tothe recent rice contamination scandal was of near epidemic proportions; somecountries are banning GE altogether. Romania, for instance, which had 85,000hectares planted with GE soy in 2005, will drop to zero this year, in keepingwith the new government policy banning the cultivation of GE soy.”

Themost significant demonstration of GE rejection was the rapid, widespreadaftermath of Bayer’s LLRICE601 contamination scandal. In August 2006, the USgovernment announced that significant amounts of US long grain rice were foundto be contaminated with an unapproved genetically engineered variety,LLRICE601; the news elicited strong reactions from rice farmers and processors,as well as governments worldwide:

·       TheRice Producers of California and a major rice mill in the state, Sunwest Foods,have called for a prohibition on any cultivation of GE rice (including fieldtrials) in California.

·       Largesectors of the rice industry, including Ebro Puleva, the world’s largest riceprocessor, committed to being GE-free.

·       Ricetraders of two of the largest rice exporting countries, Thailand and Vietnam,have signed an agreement that commits them to being GE-free, capitalizing onnew market opportunities that have opened up as a result of the contaminationof US rice supplies with Bayer’s GE rice.

·       TheChinese Biosafety Committee once again requested further data and assessment onthe safety of GE rice, thereby again delaying a decision about commercialapproval, even though the varieties have been under active consideration by thecommittee for over two years. 

·       TheAll India Rice Exporters’ Association formally requested that the Indiangovernment prohibit field trials of GE rice in basmati rice-growing states. Ricefarmers in India burnt down GE-rice test plots that could potentiallycontaminate their own fields.

RakeshTikait, national spokesperson for the Bharathiya Kisan Union, (BKU) one of thelargest farmers’ groups in India, was straightforward in his condemnation ofGE, saying, “The threat to farmers’ livelihoods in India is clear.  Examples of Bt cotton failures from acrossthe country show that this technology is unsafe for humans and the environment,and that it can neither be controlled nor regulated. We consider the threatserious enough to warrant the destruction of test fields of GE rice to stop itsintroduction and protect ourselves.”

ChipStruckmeyer, a rice farmer from California, agreed,  “US rice producers took a big hit financially when rice was foundto be contaminated with unapproved varieties. It’s clear our customers don’twant genetically engineered rice. Why on earth would we plant it?”

“ISAAAmight claim that genetic engineering has been a success, with consistentincreases in global acreage.  But theglobal reaction to the Bayer rice contamination scandal of 2006 provides asharp contrast to the rosy picture they’re painting.  It is overwhelmingly clear that the GE industry will not be ableto convince consumers to eat GE rice, wheat, aubergine, or anything else. Withgovernments unwilling to allow it, farmers unwilling to grow it and consumersunwilling to buy it, it is amply clear that genetic engineering has no place inour future,” concluded Tager.

VVPR info: For further information please contact: Namrata Chowdhary, Greenpeace International Communications: +31 646 1973 Jeremy Tager, GE Campaigner Greenpeace International: + 31 646 2211

Notes: 1. See ‘Global status of genetically engineered crops’ on 2. Pictures from crop circle action in Mexico available at (Log in details: User ID: gpimg_efe Password: autheike)