Censorship: Greenpeace France ordered to remove information about GE field locations

Feature story - July 28, 2006
If you fly over the south of France you might be tempted to believe that aliens have landed with a huge crop circle appearing in a field of maize. But the aliens aren't from a distant galaxy; it is GE maize from the laboratory of Monsanto -- that the French government says you have no right to know about.

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.

A French court has ordered Greenpeace France to remove a webpage featuring a Google Map showing the location of commercial GE maize fields in France -- despite an EU law which says the government should make the information available to the public.

So today we have responded by carving a giant 'X' crop circle into one of the GE maize fields in question, marking the spot of the GE maize field that is now censored from Greenpeace Frances' webpage.

View the google map revealing the

location of the French GE maize fields

"As we are now forbidden to publish these maps of GE maize on our webpage, we have gone into the fields and marked the field for real," said Arnaud Apoteker, of Greenpeace France.

The EU law says that member states are obliged to maintain public registers in order to inform their citizens about the locations of GE fields. But the French Government is dragging its heels in making the EU's directive into national law, depriving its citizens of vital information to protect against the risk of GE contamination of conventional and organic food.

If you are German, you can find out the locations of GE crops easily by looking on government websites, if you are French however, you are kept in the dark.

"By publishing secret locations of fields of GE 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.

Yann Arthus Bertrand, photographer and author of "Earth From Above," took this image of the crop circle marking a GE Maize field in France.

France is not the only country where the growing of GE organisms is shrouded in secrecy. The Spanish 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 Enric Navarro, an organic farmer, burned his crop of maize which had become contaminated with GE rather than sell the contaminated maize to his customers.

Our recent report 'Impossible Coexistence' showed that in nearly 20 percent 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.